iguazu falls from Argentina side
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How To Visit Iguazu Falls In Both Argentina And Brazil In One Day (2024)

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Nicole

Iguazu Falls, also spelled Iguassu or Iguaçu Falls, is a magnificent natural wonder located on the border between Brazil and Argentina. It is one of the largest and most awe-inspiring waterfalls in the world. My husband and I spent 3 nights and 2 days in Foz de Iguazu in Brazil in early November and visited the falls in both Brazil and Argentina. It was a fantastic experience and the breathtaking nature of these natural phenomenon was well worth our time. In this article, I write about where we stayed and how we saw Iguassu Falls, in addition to discussing how much time you really need to set aside to full appreciate this incredible site.

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iguazu falls from Argentina side
View of Igazu Falls from the Upper Circuit in Argentina.

Background To Our Trip To Iguassu Falls

Prior to going to Iguazu Falls, my husband and I spent 10 days on a Jaguar safari in the Pantanal in Brazil. This was a spectacular one-of-a-kind trip. We saw 14 different jaguars, in addition to seeing hundreds of caimans, capybaras, birds, and a handful of giant otters, tapirs and giant anteaters (among other animals). We spent days on beautiful rivers with barely a person or building in sight, spotting and watching these incredible creatures.

For more information about our trip, please take a look at Jaguar Safaris in the North And South Pantanal: Which Is Better?

Jaguar in the Pantanal on our Brazilian vacation
One of the jaguars we saw.

After visiting the Pantanal, we spent 3 days in Bonito. Bonito is Brazil’s number one ecotourism destination. It is located in the Bodoquena Mountain range that borders the southern Pantanal.

In Bonito, we explored Gruta Do Lago Azul Natural Monument (Blue Lake Grotto) and Buraco Das Araras (Sinkhole of the Macaws). In addition, we snorkeled beautiful crystal clear spring fed water, surrounded by amazing enormous fish.

For more information about our time in Bonito, please see Best Things To Do In Bonito In Brazil.

things to do in bonito
Blue Lake Grotto

After Bonito, we headed to Iguassu.

iguazu national park to see iguazu falls
In front of the breathtaking scope of Iguazu Falls.

The Significance of Iguassu Falls

Iguassu Falls are considered one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders. It is considered the largest waterfall system in the world and a World Unesco Heritage Site.

They span the border between Argentina and Brazil and consist of approximately 275 individual waterfalls. However, this number can vary between 150 and 300 depending on the season and water levels.

Iguazu Falls From The Argentine Side

The Argentine side holds 80% of the falls and offers the Upper and Lower Trails, allowing visitors to explore the falls from different perspectives.

Map of upper and lower circuits in Iguazu National Park in Argentina.
Map of upper and lower circuits in Iguazu National Park in Argentina.

The Upper Trail provides panoramic views of many falls. It is shorter than the Lower Trail at just half a mile and will take around an hour. It has catwalks leading you on top of the falls with views over the nearly 200 foot high falls. It’s very impressive. There are no stairs here and this path is accessible for all.

one day visit to both Iguassu national park and iguazu national park in Argentina and Brazil
A view of one of the bridges that we crossed over a Fall.

The Lower Trail gets you closer to the action and the spray. The Lower Circuit can take 2-3 hours to explore, with multiple viewpoints and paths. There are stairs on this path, but you can avoid some (but not all) of them with small detours.

The Argentine side tends to be more popular than the Brazilian side because of these trails. As you find yourself walking over the top of falls, sometimes only feet from them, the sensation is absolutely wild. The roar of the falls is deafening and you can feel the pounding water right through your body.

view of iguassu falls from Argentinian side
We got very close to the falls where we could feel its power.

You will also come across beautiful birds and other wildlife while you walk along the different pathways.

wildlife in Argentina side of iguazu national park
Some of the wildlife we saw.

Iguassu Falls From Brazilian Side

The experience from the Brazilian side is very different. It offers panoramic views of all of the Falls versus more intimate encounters with separate ones. Although most of the falls are in Argentina, the best views of them are from Brazil! 

View of Iguassu Falls from Brazil side on one day tour
View of Iguassu Falls in Brazil at the start of the walk.

Additionally, the Brazilian side offers one long walkway (around 5000 feet or 1500 meters) allowing you to walk with a constant view of them. It is less tricky to navigate versus the Argentinian side, and you can avoid stairs. You can also walk the whole path in less than an hour.

The crown jewel at the end of the walkway is a thunderous set of 14 falls, called Devil’s Throat. They are about 260 feet (80 m) high, falling 2,000 cubic meters per second.

The walkway is designed for you to view the falls from various angles from the base to the side. At one point, you even walk perpendicular to the base where you will be enveloped and soaked from mist, wind and splashes. Many people bring a rain jacket or large plastic sheet to protect yourself from the water. Others simply embrace mother nature and leave this area absolutely soaked.

one day tour of Iguassu national park from both brazil and argentina
Walkway to base of Devil’s Throat in Brazil.

An observation tower, with its creaky elevator, completes the experience. It is from here that Eleanor Roosevelt supposedly lamented, “My poor Niagara…”

You can also see Devil’s Throat from the Argentine side if the observation deck is open but it is a view from the top and it may be closed if there is or has been severe rain or flooding.

Details Of Our Stay In Iguaçu Falls

John from Brazil Nature Tours organized our time and accommodation in Foz de Iguazu (as he did for our time in the Pantanal).

We had a lovely guide who collected us from the airport from Foz de Iguazu and took us to our accommodation, The Sanma Hotel. He remained our guide for our whole stay.

one day visit to iguassu national park in Argentina
Mike and our guide.

The Sanma Hotel was a five star luxury hotel very close to Iguazu Falls in Iguazu National Park in Brazil. We had a large beautiful room and loved spending time by the pool and eating dinners at the Bar. Food and service were both excellent.

Important Tips For Your Visit

Below I discuss the day to day details of our visit to Iguassu Falls. However, beforehand, I wanted to highlight some important information and tips from our experience.

  • Both Brazil and Argentina have created national parks where their side of Iguazu Falls are located. Both countries call their parks, Iguazu or Iguaçu National Park.
  • You can visit both Argentinian and Brazilian sides of Iguassu Falls in one day. We did and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. However, you need to get to the Argentinian side first and at opening to avoid the crowds because you walk along narrow bridges and pathways. As the day gets busier, you fall behind people who have a different schedule and it becomes more difficult to pass them. In addition, vantage points become very busy and it becomes harder to take photos without others in them.
pathway in Iguazu national Park on one day tour
One of the narrow pathways in Iguazu National Park in Argentina.
  • We were in good physical health and able to walk the Argentinian side at a moderate pace without any breaks (other than stopping to enjoy views or taking photos). We didn’t hurry but we also didn’t sit and have refreshments. If you walk slowly or would like to take breaks from sightseeing while on the Argentinian side, it would be harder to do both waterfalls in one day.
iguassu falls on both argentine and Brazil side in one day
Appreciating the Falls from a distance.
one day itinerary for seeing Iguazu falls in brazil and argentina
  • We arrived at the Brazilian side in the early afternoon and it was busy. However, because of how the pathway was set up (see below), we still had an easy time walking and enjoying the spectacular views of the Falls. Even with lots of people on the path, there were several spots to stop and take photos without anyone else in our photos or blocking our view.
  • We ate a late lunch on the Brazilian side. At the end of the walk along the Falls, there was a very large buffet-style restaurant called Porto Canoas that also had beautiful views of the Falls. It was expensive relative to other places in Brazil, but not when compared to other similar type restaurants in other touristy spots in the world. The food was very good.
  • We decided to give ourselves an extra free day in Foz de Iguazu certain that there would be multiple activities from which to choose, especially in the national parks in Argentina and Brazil. However, it was very disappointing. The border delays meant returning to Argentina was unattractive, and there wasn’t much else offered in the Brazilian National Park other than the Falls.
  • There was some silly museums (like a Wax Museum) in Foz de Iguazu but nothing of substance. We asked our guide to take us into the city center to explore, but except for a couple of streets with some shops meant for locals, there was nothing else to see. In addition, there were favelas (slums or shanty towns) that meant walking on our own was unsafe.
  • There weren’t even any restaurants in downtown Iguazu or beyond our hotel that were recommended. Accordingly, we ate all our meals at the hotel bar.
  • We gave ourselves one extra day for exploring or to sit by the hotel pool and relax. However, we faced torrential rains on this day and ended up spending the day inside our hotel room.
  • Accordingly, if you are short of time, it is totally reasonable to only allot one full day to see both sides of the Falls. You will not be missing anything of significance in Iguzu about which you would later learn and regret not leaving more time.
  • However, if you find yourself anywhere near this part of the world, it would be an absolute shame not to include Iguazu Falls in your itinerary. Without a shadow of a doubt, they were absolutely breathtaking to see and I was thrilled they were part of our time in Brazil and Argentina.

Day One Of Our Iguazu Itinerary: Arrival

On our first day, we arrived late in the afternoon. We only had time to enjoy a nice dinner at our hotel and then, head to bed for our early start.

Day Two: Full Day Visit Of Both Sides Of Iguassu Falls

The next day, we were picked up around 6:00 am by our guide and driven around 15 minutes to the Argentine Border.

Unfortunately, we had to stand in line 1.5 hours to get our passports stamped in order to cross the border. Apparently, this was normal when we went (but the Argentinian government constantly changes the rules about what is required to cross its’ border so it may be faster when you go). Once done, we drove another 30 minutes to Iguazu National Park.

We loved this National Park and the upper and lower paths offering us multiple different vantage points to enjoy the Falls.

iguazu falls in argentina

It was very quiet when we arrived, allowing us to have most of the Park and the trails to ourselves. It made the narrow bridges and small observations posts all the more special because we were able to enjoy our views in a serene atmosphere, practically alone.

We spent around 3 hours in the Park and felt totally satisfied with our time there. We didn’t feel rushed and savored all of the breathtaking vistas.

exploring iguazu national park in argentina in one day

Had we arrived later, we would have definitely faced crowds and the experience would have been totally different. As it was, we were walking past crowds and crowds of people on our exit. At that point, it felt like a major tourist attraction.

Brazilian Side of Iguaçu Falls

Our return through the border was a lot quicker. We did not have to line back up to get our passports stamped.

Once through the border, we drove around 20 minutes to Iguazu National Park.

There is a massive parking lot and Tourist Center at the opening of the Park. Most people purchase tickets and are required to line up for shuttle buses as there is very little parking near the Falls. Since we had a licensed guide, we had to get out and purchase our tickets from inside the Tourist Center, but we drove the rest of the way to the Falls with him.

It was a pretty 10 minute drive through the National Park to the start of the path along the Falls.

As described, it was an easy walk, mostly downhill, along a paved wide open walkway. The Falls were always to our right, and we always had easy unobstructed views.

breathtaking views of Iguazu Falls from Brazilian side
View of Iguazu Falls in Argentina from Brazil side.
breathtaking views of Iguazu Falls from Brazilian side

There were lots of people around, but it didn’t feel crowded and our views were spectacular.

We ended up absolutely soaked (happily) at the end when we chose to walk on the perpendicular path towards the base of Devil’s Throat. Like the Argentinian side, it was very cool to hear and feel the thunderous roar of the water as we got closer and closer.

Finally, we walked to the only sit down restaurant and had a delicious lunch with different views of the Falls. After that, our tour ended and our guide dropped us off at our hotel about 4:00 pm.

Day Three: Relaxation

Although we had great plans to explore more of the area, there wasn’t anything of interest for us to see or do. Unfortunately, there was a ferocious rainstorm and couldn’t even spend the day by the pool.

However, we caught up on our sleep and ultimately, was grateful for the excuse to do nothing much after 2 very full weeks of travel and exploration.

Last Word

Iguassu Falls in Argentina and Brazil are Unesco World Heritage Sites and one of the natural wonders of the world. They are worth adding to any itinerary in Brazil or Argentina.

You can easily see both sides of the Falls in one day, and do not need to allot any more time if you do not have the time to do so.

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