We just got back from visiting the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls and have to say we were blown away by this show-stopping natural wonder of the world. Many people choose to stay in Argentina when visiting the falls, but we were coming from Rio, so flying into the Brazilian side made more sense.
Here, we’ll go over everything you need to know about visiting the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls, including how to get there, where to stay, where to eat, and an optimised itinerary for spending one, two or three days in the area.
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Iguazu Falls Brazilian Side Vs Argentinian Side
The Iguazu Falls (known locally as Cataratas do Iguaçu or sometimes, Iguassu Falls) straddle the border between Brazil and Argentina. There are national parks on each side to help you get up close and personal to the falls.
Both also have large towns near the entrance to the parks, where you’ll find a range of restaurants and accommodation options. Puerto Iguazu is the name of the town on the Argentinian side, while Foz do Iguaçu is the name of the city on the Brazilian side. Both sides also have an international airport.
Since we were coming from Rio de Janiero as part of a 10-day Brazilian itinerary, it made the most sense for us to fly into Foz do Iguaçu airport.
We didn’t have a huge amount of time in Brazil, and I didn’t want to waste another hour or so getting across the border on our arrival. For this reason, we chose to stay in a hotel on the Brazilian side of Iguazu.
In Brazil, it is widely believed you’ll get to see the best single view of the falls. Meanwhile, in Argentina, you’ll find the national park is much larger, offering longer hiking trails with different perspectives of the falls.
To summarise, I think the Brazilian side of Iguazu is best for:
- Those flying in from elsewhere in Brazil
- Show-stopping views
- Those short on time
Meanwhile, the Argentinian side is better for:
- Those flying in from elsewhere in Argentina
- Longer walks in nature
- Those with more time to spare
Where to stay on the Brazilian Side of Iguazu Falls
Belmond Hotel das Cataratas
This hotel is the only one located within the national park itself, allowing you to see the falls outside of opening hours and even at sunset with a cocktail in hand. This is also ideal if you are short on time when visiting Iguazu Falls. The Belmond is also a luxury, historic property with a swoon-worthy interior, and certainly worth the money if you can afford it.
If your wallet doesn’t stretch to one of the pretty, Portuguese-tiled suites, you can also visit the hotel for dinner to get a glimpse of the falls after the park closes. We did this, and I can thoroughly recommend the experience, especially for a special occasion. The falls are spectacular during the day, but almost other-worldly at sunset.
You can find more details about the meal and drinks at the Belmond in the ‘best restaurants’ section of this guide, and also a detailed report of how to get there in the ‘1-Day Itinerary’ section.
The best for a mid-range budget, Sanma Hotel is a lovely resort-style hotel in prime position a five-minute walk from the park entrance. We stayed here and thought the facilities and location were excellent. You’ll find a picture-perfect pool, perfect for cooling off after a day spent in the humid jungle, along with a gym, bar, sauna, hot tubs, and spa.
We found that the main areas of the hotel had a more five-star feel than the bedrooms, but since there is so much to do in Iguazu, we didn’t spend much time in the rooms anyway.
Ideal for those travelling in a group, as a family, or with a tighter budget, these self-catering apartments are located in an ideal spot in the centre of Foz do Iguaçu city. Unlike the previous two options, these are a taxi ride away from the falls, but within walking distance of all the restaurants and nightlife of the city instead.
A small, authentic and sustainable guesthouse in an excellent location in the centre of Foz do Iguaçu. Perfect if you prefer clean, no-frills properties to get the best value for money. There’s a small pool, hammocks in the tropical gardens, friendly local hosts, and even a charming shared kitchen.
How to Get There
When visiting the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls, most people fly into Foz do Iguaçu airport from elsewhere in the country.
You can fly there directly from some of the major cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Florianópolis, Maceió, Porto Alegre and Recife. You will also find some (less regular) direct flights from other major destinations in Latin America, such as Santiago, Chile. I use WayAway to compare flight times and prices and get cashback on bookings.
Alternatively, you can catch the bus from Rio de Janeiro, which takes around 24 hours or from São Paulo, which takes around 17 hours. If you have the time, this is a far less expensive option than flying, and most buses have ‘business class’ level seats which transform into a bed to make the journey more comfortable.
You will also find buses from other destinations in Brazil, use Check My Bus to find more routes.
Things to do on the Brazilian Side of Iguazu Falls
1 Day Itinerary
If you only have one day in Iguazu Falls then you’re in luck! The Brazilian side of Iguazu is smaller and more doable in just one day. In fact, many manage to explore the whole thing in just a few hours.
To make the most out of your day, I suggest you arrive at the park gates when it opens at 8 am. Hop on the National Park bus and get off at the last (3rd) stop. This is the stop after the stop at the Belmond Hotel.
From here you can take the stairs next to the elevators straight down to Devil’s Throat to enjoy the rush of the falls without the crush of tourists! Take waterproof protection for your valuables, because you’re going to get wet!
Once you’ve experienced the thrill of Devil’s Throat, you can head back to the Belmond Hotel by bus and then take the main hiking trail back towards the falls. Weaving through the jungle, you’ll get many more cool perspectives of the falls before reaching the elevators once again.
By this point, you might be hungry so you can stop off for a bite to eat at the Restaurante Porto Canoas (keep walking past the bus terminal). For a little thrill after lunch, you can book the Macacuo Boat Safari, an exhilarating jet boat ride that takes you right underneath the falls themselves.
To get there, simply take the bus back to the first stop. Here you’ll take a 4×4 drive and a short walk through the jungle to reach the river, where you board the boat. Be sure to bring a change of clothes and stash your valuables in the available lockers as you will get soaked!
If you choose not to do the jet boat adventure or still have time afterwards, you can either visit the bird sanctuary, which is located next to the entrance of the Brazilian National Park or take a tour of the Itaipu Dam, one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the world.
You can either take a taxi there or book a tour that includes transport. The last tours of the dam start at 3 pm so you’ll need to be quick to make this work!
In the evening, I recommend booking a table at Itaipu Restaurant at the Belmond Hotel. This means you can re-enter the park as the sun is setting and enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the falls almost entirely to yourself.
Keep hold of your entrance tickets from the day, and enter the park via the special Belmond gates which are a little further up the road from the main entrance. Here, the hotel has a shuttle to take you to the hotel. Be sure to arrive in time for sunset, which is usually between 6 pm and 7 pm.
2 Day Itinerary
Day 1: Brazil Iguazu Falls: Devil’s Throat, Macuco jet boat safari, Itaipu Dam tour, sunset and dinner at the falls (as above in the 1-day itinerary).
Day 2: Argentinian side of falls: Upper circuit, lower circuit, hike and waterfall swim, dinner and a samba show (see below).
If you have two days in the area, I highly recommend spending one day at the Brazilian side of Iguazu (as above), before crossing the border to see the Argentinian side.
Since it only takes less than an hour to get across, and taxis are cheap, I suggest you ask your hotel to book you a driver for the day. You can also catch the bus from the centre of Foz do Iguaçu to Puerto Iguazu, and then another bus to the park.
As of 2023, a driver to take you from Brazil to the park entrance, and then wait there until you are ready to leave, costs 400 Brazilian Real which works out to about £65. This is a door-to-door service taking you straight from your hotel to the park, with less queuing at the border (taxis have a special queue).
To beat the crowds, try to arrive early at the park, in time for opening at 8 am. Unfortunately, Devil’s Throat on this side was closed when we visited, but when open, I recommended taking the train and heading there first for the best pictures.
Next up, take the train back and follow the signs for the lower circuit (Circuito Inferior). On this trail you get lots of nice perspectives of the water without hordes of people in the way, so keep your camera handy.
Finally, hike the upper circuit (Circuito Superior), where you can view some of the same falls from above.
Once you’ve had your fill of the Argentinian falls, head back towards the entrance for lunch at Fortin Cataratas. Alternatively, if your budget will stretch, lunch at the Gran Melia Hotel offers sumptuous Spanish-style bites overlooking the falls themselves.
After lunch, I recommend taking the 45-minute trek through the jungle on the Sendero Macuco trail, a footpath many overlook in favour of the main circuits. This trail takes you 45 minutes through the lush jungle (keep an eye out for monkeys!) to reach a hidden waterfall.
Here, you can cool off with an exhilarating swim under the falls. In fact, this is the only place you can swim in the whole of Iguazu Falls, so make the most of it!
Once you have hiked back, you’ll no doubt be ready to head back to Brazil. For the evening, I recommend sampling one of the local restaurants in Foz do Iguaçu, or enjoying dinner and a show at Rafain.
This experience offers a traditional Brazilian BBQ dinner, alongside vibrant music and dancing to celebrate the local culture, including dances such as the capoeira and samba.
3 Day Itinerary
Day 1: Visit the bird park and take a catamaran tour of the Tres Fonters (see below).
Day 2: Brazil Iguazu Falls: Devil’s Throat, Macuco jet boat safari, Itaipu Dam tour, sunset and dinner at the falls (as above in the 1-day itinerary).
Day 3: Argentina Iguazu Falls: Upper circuit, lower circuit, hike and waterfall swim, dinner and a samba show (as above in the 2-day itinerary).
If you have a little longer in Iguazu, you can always follow the 2-day itinerary above, at a slower pace to take more in. However, if you prefer an action-packed itinerary, I’ve included some ideas for the first day here too.
Bear in mind that the weather is unpredictable in Iguazu Falls, so you may want to rearrange your itinerary a little according to the conditions. Those with three days in the area have more flexibility to do so.
If you are arriving on day one, you might not have much time or you may want to spend some time relaxing in your hotel (demonstrated in the above photo!).
If you do have more time or are eager to head out and explore, I suggest a visit to the bird sanctuary (Parque des Aves) to learn about some of the area’s most colourful wildlife. There’s a nice cafe inside the bird park to get lunch surrounded by scurrying lizards and hummingbirds.
In the afternoon/evening, you can go on a catamaran tour to visit the spot where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay all meet, known as the three frontiers (tres fronteras).
You could take an afternoon tour and then head into Foz do Iguaçu for dinner. However, since Foz do Iguaçu is not the most enticing city, I would recommend taking the tour to the three frontiers at sunset instead.
This highly rated excursion allows you to experience the stunning tranquillity of the Iguazu River at sunset, with a delicious buffet dinner on board.
Days two and three can then be spent marvelling at the falls as in the above 2-day itinerary.
Best Restaurants on the Brazilian Side of Iguazu Falls
There are a few restaurants I recommend trying while you are staying on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. Some of these are also mentioned in the sample itineraries above.
Itiapu Restaurant at Belmond Hotel
This is a show-stopping restaurant and comes with the irresistible benefit of being able to view the falls at sunset. Unless you are a guest of the hotel or visiting for dinner, the park gates shut at 5 pm.
Book a table for when the restaurant opens at 7:30 pm, but arrive at the Belmond gated entrance much earlier (5:30 pm) for the shuttle to the hotel. Don’t forget to bring your tickets if you have already been inside the park that day, otherwise, you’ll have to pay another entrance fee.
Take the shuttle up to the hotel and head down onto the walking trails to get some shots of the falls at sunset. Whenever you are ready, you can head back up to the hotel for drinks in the bar, and a delicious dinner in the restaurant. The prices are higher than elsewhere in Foz do Iguaçu, but reasonable by Western standards. The food is elevated Brazilian cuisine.
This was a lovely little local spot we went to on our second night in Foz do Iguaçu. Very reasonably priced, they had lots of Brazilian specialities on the menu. I went for a cassava bowl with braised beef, which was kind of like loaded mashed potatoes. The portions are huge here, so you don’t need to order any sides, as much as they may try and talk you into it!
They also have a great wine list with some good-value Argentinian wines.
Rafain Chopp/Churrascaria Show
These are two different restaurants run by the same people. Rafain Chopp is a happening spot in the centre of Foz do Iguaçu serving an amazing range of cocktails alongside steaks, BBQ meats, and western classics.
There are huge screens showing sports and later in the evening, you’ll find live music and lots of people drinking and dancing. Rafain Chopp kind of gave me TGI Fridays vibes (in a good way!).
Meanwhile, the Rafain Churrascaria Show is a full evening of entertainment which you must buy tickets for in advance. Here you can enjoy a vast Brazilian buffet dinner before enjoying hours of live entertainment, including samba dancing, singing, and vibrant costumes. It’s a fantastic way to spend an evening in Foz do Iguaçu and get a real taste of the local culture. Book your tickets here!
Fun Facts About the Brazilian Side of Iguazu
- The word Iguazu comes from the Guarani (Paraguay) language meaning ‘Big Water.’
- Iguazu Falls are both taller and wider than the more famous Niagra Falls. They are also wider than Victoria Falls in Africa.
- As the local legend goes, the falls were formed by a God, enraged by unrequited love. He sliced the river in two to prevent the woman he loved from paddling away with a mortal man, damning them both to an eternal fall.
- Only around 20% of the falls are on the Brazilian side, with 80% making up the rest in Argentina.
- Iguazu Falls comprises about 275 waterfalls, however, this number changes depending on the season.
- Iguassu National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, protecting the parks and the habitats of thousands of birds, plants, and even wild cats such as jaguars.
Brazilian Side of Iguazu: FAQs
Best time to visit Iguazu Falls BraZil?
The best time to see Iguazu Falls is during the shoulder seasons in April, May, September and October. The area has a tropical climate, but the ‘rainy season’ from December to March can feel unbearably hot and humid. It also gets very busy, with many Brazilians taking their holidays during this time.
In the Western summer, from June to August, you’re more likely to see blue skies. However, the low water level can mean the falls aren’t quite as strong, loud and impressive as they are during the full force of the wet season. This is why visiting during April, May, September and October is generally considered the best choice.
We visited in late November and must have gotten lucky with the weather because we had one day with blazing sunshine and another which was overcast but (mostly) dry. We also didn’t find it too busy at all, only at the major photo opportunities.
How to get to the Brazilian side of Iguazu?
If you’re coming from the Argentinian side of Iguazu, the best way to get to the Brazilian side is to take an organised taxi or tour. There is a bus from Puerto Iguazu town, but it will take you longer to cross the border this way.
Once you arrive at the national park entrance, there are self-service ticket machines where you can buy your ticket. This includes transport on the park bus from the gates down to Devil’s Throat (stop 3) Belmond Hotel and hiking trails (stop 2), and the Macuco jet boat safari (Stop 1).
If you’re coming from elsewhere in Brazil, the quickest and most convenient option is to fly into the airport, with regular direct flights from most major cities including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
Best Iguazu Falls Brazil Hotel?
In terms of value for money and location, the best hotel on the Brazilian side of Iguazu is the Sanma Resort, which is located within walking distance of the Iguazu National Park. This helps you maximise your time in the park, without sacrificing comfort and amenities.
If your budget is a little larger, the best hotel is the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas, located within the park itself.
How many days at Iguazu Falls Brazil?
Two days is enough to see the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls with some time to explore the Argentinian side too. Three days offers a little extra time and is recommended if you’re planning on exploring more of the area, such as the three frontiers. If you’re travelling in the rainy season, I also recommend you give yourself more time in case of bad weather days.
Top Tips for Visiting Iguazu Falls Brazil
- Wear comfy, breathable shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. The same goes for your clothes (or bring a change!).
- Book a reservation for dinner at the Belmond Hotel for mind-blowing views of the falls at sunset (book in advance!).
- Pack mosquito repellent and sun cream in your day bag so that you can reapply after you get wet.
- To maximise time or learn more about the local flora and fauna, book an Iguazu Falls tour.
- Don’t forget you need Argentine pesos when you visit the Argentinian side of the falls (it is possible to pay by card at the National Park).
- While safer than many locations in South America, I still recommend you stay vigilant with your valuables, especially at night.
Have another question or want to know more about visiting the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls? Let me know in the comments!
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