Foz do Iguaçu is a major city in the state of Paraná, Brazil. It is a gateway to both Paraguay and Argentina, and home of the famous Iguaçu Falls. Together with the cities of Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) and Puerto Iguazu (Argentina), it forms part of one the largest cultural tourism poles in South America.
Foz do Iguaçu is so named because it sits at the mouth of the Iguaçu river, discharging into Paraná river, where lies the frontier among Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The word Iguaçu means "large water", in Tupi-Guarani etymology. Despite hosting one of Brazil's major tourist attractions, the city has a rather un-touristy feel, and other than the large number of hotels and occasional tri-lingual signs, it looks like any other medium-sized Brazilian city - there are practically no "tourist shopping streets" and like. There is however a large shopping mall being constructed at Avenida das Cataratas, which shall provide additional convenience to visitors in terms of night-time shopping and gastronomy.
In the past, Foz do Iguaçu formed with a tourism pole together with the nearby city of Guaíra, which hosted the Guaíra Falls (Sete Quedas). After the construction of the gigantic Itaipu Dam in the early 1980s, the Guaíra Falls were inundated, leaving Foz do Iguaçu as the only major traveller destination in the southwestern border of the Paraná state.
- 1 [formerly dead link] Iguazu Falls Cataratas International Airport (IGU IATA). Close to the city. There are frequent flights from Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Santiago de Chile, etc. ATMs are available on the ground level next to Arrivals. Internet terminals and WiFi are available in the upstairs restaurant area but the WiFi can only be purchased in a 24 hour package for R$25 which is quite expensive.
When flying out of Foz do Iguaçu, if you're going to Rio de Janeiro, request a window seat on the right side of the plane—don't miss the views!
- 2 International Bus Station (Rodoviária Internacional) (northeast of the center). Most connections and bus companies go from/to this bus station.
Bus transportation is available to and from the most important cities in the country, and even to Argentina:
- São Paulo – About 15 hr, with at least three daily connections between both cities in the early and late afternoon, R$230-260.
- Rio de Janeiro – About 25 hr, with connections in the morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon, around R$300.
- Curitiba – About 11 hr, early and late connections with Catarinense, R$190-240.
- Cuiaba – About 28 hr with Eucatur.
- Campo Grande – About 14 hr with Medianeira, Integração or Unesul.
- Belo Horizonte – About 32 hr, one connection per day, R$380.
- Florianopolis – Several late afternoon and evening connections, R$170-350.
- Santos – With at least one daily connection.
- Buenos Aires – With at least three departures weekly from Iguaçu on Sundays at 13:30, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 17:00.
By freight bus company
If you are looking for a cheap alternative for connections between Foz do Iguaçu and São Paulo, check out this combination of bus and freight company. They basically also handle goods transports to São Paulo for merchants buying in Ciudad del Este, what makes them so cheap but a little chaotic and different at the same time. They take a while with the boarding, which is also why there is always a restaurant nearby, which they probably own. Also, the journey includes a 30-min stop at a restaurant just 4 hr after leaving Foz do Iguaçu. Furthermore, the bus might be checked a little closer by police, but as a regular tourist that is nothing of your concern, because you do not carry any taxable goods. You and your luggage will also be checked by the bus company for any tradable goods. So, if you have anything still packaged and in uncommon amounts, this might be a problem. As of May 2018, the journey time is 15½ hr, of which 2½ hr are being stuck in São Paulo traffic. Entry and exit points are their local offices. The buses seats are semi-cama. It is probably a good idea to call ahead for reservation or availability of seats, or ask your ho(s)tel.
- 3 Trans Muleke, Foz do Iguaçu, Rua Assis 124, ☏ , . 17-18:00 to/from Sao Paulo, but you should get your ticket already at 15:00 or the day before. R$130.
- 4 MD Tour, Foz do Iguaçu, Av. Carlos Gomes 564, ☏ , , . 17-18:00 to/from Sao Paulo, but you should get your ticket already at 15:00 or the day before. R$130.
As with all bus companies, always keep an eye on your luggage—drug smuggle is not unheard of in Brazil. Some people say these buses are smuggler buses, because some people do not pay taxes on their good and bring them into São Paulo this way. But this is none of your concern, the bus company checks and labels all good and will also not take any responsibility but will just point to the owner of the freight.
By tour company
In Iguaçu you can find many tour companies that make the trip from/to Paraguay, Argentina or any other point of interest.
From Curitiba, access is over the BR-227 (Curitiba - Asuncion) highway. There are 632 km of highway. Foz do Iguaçu is in the extreme west of Paraná, 640 km from Curitiba. Main highways:
- From Curitiba: BR-277
- From São Paulo: BR-116/BR-277
- From Rio de Janeiro: BR-116/BR277
- Bus number 120 is the most convenient connection, running from the TTU (city center urban transport bus station), through the city center, to the airport, the bird park, and finally the national park.
- The airport is 15 km south of the city center and 3 km northwest of the national park. It is connected by bus number 120 (R$4 per person, cash only) to both the city center and the national park (i.e., the Brazilian side of the falls). The airport bus stop is a short 20 m outside the main entrance (to your left when exiting the terminal). At the airport, be sure to ask the driver so you know which direction the bus is going, as it stops two times at the airport - one time on its route to the bird park and then visitor's center in the park, and then again while returning back from the park to the city center. By bus, the park visitor's center is 10 minutes from the airport, while the city center is 40-60 min, depending on traffic.
- Ciudad del Este is across the river via the Friendship Bridge and can be reached by public bus, taxi, car, moto-taxi, or walking. Traffic jams of 30-90 min wait time are common from early morning to late evening. The public bus (R$6) does not stop at border control on either the Brazilian or Paraguayan side.
- The international bus between Foz do Iguacu and Ciudad del Este is white, with a sign marked "Foz/Ciudad". In Foz, it makes many stops in the center (some stops are marked "Internacional", but not all). In Ciudad del Este, the bus goes to the terminal. One person costs R$6, cash only.
- 1 Iguaçu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu) (accessible with Aeroporto/Parque Nacional bus from Local Bus Terminal). One of the most famous attractions in Brazil, the falls on the Iguaçu River have a flow capacity equal to three times that of Niagara Falls. The falls are shared between Brazil and Argentina, and each side has its own network of trails and viewpoints. The National Park on the Brazilian side runs a shuttle bus between the Visitors' Centre, the falls, and numerous outdoor tour operators, including boat rides run by Macuco Safari out to the bottom of the falls. R$63.
- 2 Parque das Aves (Birds Park). daily 08:30-17:30, 08:30-17:00 in local winter. It is very close to the entrance of the falls, you can take a self-guided tour of the park to come in close contact with all different types of exotic birds. There may also be chances to hold and take pictures with the birds. The Birds Park is considered an ecological sanctuary. It is located near the Iguaçu National Park in a 16-hectare area of native woods. A paved trail leads visitors to the enormous aviaries that blend in with the forest and allow you to know approximately 900 birds from 180 species. The Park also has a butterfly section with 25 species and a reptile section as well. All of these animals can be seen from a distance of only a few meters. The park also has a parking lot, a souvenir shop and a snack bar. R$40.
- 3 Itaipu Dam (Itaipu Binacional). The Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant is the largest electric power generator in the world and was considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineering. Take a bus R$2.85 from the Local Bus Terminal to get there. Booking in advance is recommended for special tour and/or on weekends/public holidays. There are many tourism attractions available, but the panoramic tour and of the dam is a must. R$12-100 (depending on tour type and discounts).
- If you are keen to save some money, head over to the Paraguayan side of the dam. They offer the same tours for free, some requiring registration one week ahead, but some days might work as well if it is not high season. Take the border bus (R$5.50) to Ciudad del Este center and the nearby 5 Terminal bus urbano, from where the bus to Hernandarias and Itaipu is going. You will probably need to change some money (about R$5) into guaranis for the bus to and from the dam. Use the exchange opportunities explained for Ciudad del Este. Also, read more on how to get to the dam under the Ciudad del Este article.
- 4 Three Borders Landmark (Argentina–Brazil–Paraguay tripoint). The place where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. Each side has its own Marco (landmark). Have a look at Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, all in the same glimpse of the eye while there are cargo freighters making their way slowly along the water. Accessing it can be hard, as there is a single bus line leaving from the Downtown Terminal whose final destination is the landmark. There is a new visitor center and a museum on the Brazilian side, costs R$25. It has a wall around it, so you cannot see the brazilian border mark without paying. Argentinian border mark is easily accessible even by walk from the center, or by bus. No entry fee. Paraguayan mark is quite far from the city, accessible by buses going to Pdte. Franco and then Tres Fronteras. Argentina: Free, Brazil: R$25, Paraguay: Gs.5,000.
- 5 Paraguay Border Market (take the border bus for R$5.50). The border markets close very early at around 16:00 in local winter and 17:00 in local summer, right before sunset. Shopping is the main business of the visitors. The main shopping streets are San Blas and Camilo Recalde, where you can buy almost anything. Many people come for electronics. Otherwise, get some Paraguayan Chipa and/or exchange your dollars here. You probably do not need to get your passport stamped if you return to Brazil afterwards, as long as you have a valid visa for Brazil.
- Salto do Macuco (Tinamou Drop) (Macuco Safári). On this tour, the visitor takes trails in an open, electric vehicle, accompanied by trilingual guides over 3 km of jungle. The vehicle stops at the beginning of a 600-m trail that leads to the Salto do Macuco – with its crystal clear waters that fall from a height of 20 m over rocks, forming a tiny lake. Those who do not want to descend on foot can take the same electric car to where they embark on the inflatable boat. It is an exciting adventure as the boat navigates over a canyon’s waters and gets very near the huge Garganta do Diabo falls and then receives the “wet blessing” from the Three Musketeers Falls. To get there take the Cataratas Highway to km 23, already inside the Iguaçu National Park. A hint: if you don’t want to get soaked, take a raincoat.
- Helicopter Tour. 09:00-17:00. This 10-minute tour provides a beautiful aerial view of Iguaçu National Park. It is the best way to understand the real dimensions of the Falls. Another option is to fly over the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant. For the flight over the Iguacu falls, you need a minimum of 3 people (the helicopter can take 7 people + the pilot), but you can wait around and will usually find another group of one or two people. R$435.
- Poço Preto (Black Well). This excursion is made in a special vehicle – over a rustic 18 km trail - through the exuberant vegetation of the National Park. It lasts up to 5 hours. Specialized guides accompany the visitors who can photograph or watch birds. It is located on km 18 of BR 469 – the Cataratas Highway.
Foz do Iguaçu is not a shopping destination. Brazilians generally go to the neighbouring cities of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay for cheaper imported goods, or to Puerto Iguazu in Argentina for Argentinean wines and alfajor.
- Downtown. Downtown shopping is mostly found at Av. Brasil (between Av. Jorge Schimmelpfeng and Av. República Argentina) and its surroundings. Shops there are mostly aimed at locals, not tourists, and do not open on evenings or Sundays.
- Cataratas JL Shopping, Av. Costa e Silva, 185 - Pólo Centro. 11:00-23:00. A typical Brazilian-style shopping mall which offers the conveniences of late evening shopping and a decent food court. Contains a branch of the Brazilian department store Havan. The mall is definitely not tourist-oriented, but has trilingual signs. 113 shops.
- Boi Na Brasa, Av. Juscelino Kubitscheck (close to Fouad Center New Time), ☏ . Buffet with grilled meat. From R$8.
- Bufalo Branco. The best churrascaria in town. Probably also the most expensive. R$85.
- Martignoni Pizza Parlor, Av. Paraná 3535 (downtown), ☏ . Tu-Su 19:00-24:00. Pizza de rodizio: the waiters bring around a selection of meats, pastas, and (the main attraction) pizza. A nice atmosphere with an excellent variety of pizzas, including some with fruit, chocolate, and ice cream. But before dessert, try the catupiry and the tomate seco (dried tomato). R$13.50.
- La Bella Pizza, Rua Xavier da Silva 648, ☏ . 17:00-late. All you can eat pizza and pasta, 40 different types including chocolate and banana pizza. R$12-15.
- Hostel Poesia, Rua das Papoulas, 452, ☏ . Renovated hostel with fine kitchen, big cinema room and a mini library. The hostel can organize tours and bus tickets and breakfast is included. Dorms from R$25.
- Hostel Backpacker, Rua Tarobá 827 (Downtown, 3 blocks from TTU urban bus terminal), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly staff. Breakfast included. Internet. Conveniently located in the city center. Booking for organized tours to Iguaçu Falls possible. Dorm from R$30.
- Pousada El Shaddai, Rua Engenheiro Reboucas 306, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Dorms from R$22, doubles from R$60, incl breakfast buffet, swimming pool, kitchen use. Clean and friendly. Quiet and central location near amenities like banks, supermarkets, restaurants, launderettes.
- Albergue Paudimar Campestre (Av. das Cataratas). Twelve kilometres outside Foz do Iguaçu on the way to the Brazilian side of the falls, it's more a mini-resort than a hostel. It offers free internet, budget meals and also has a swimming pool and bar. They also arrange tours to the Argentinean side of the falls. Half the taxi fair from the bus terminal is returned if you go with two or more persons and stay at least two days. Look for the stand at the bus terminal.
- Your Place Hostel, Rua Joaquim Firmino 222, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Free breakfast. Close to the bars and commerce area. Staying here you can easily catch direct buses to the main touristic places. Dorm from R$23.
- Nadai Confort Hotel, Av. República Argentina, 1334, ☏ . Central location. Offers a number of options for leisure and facilities for its businesses.
- Pousada Sonho Meu, Rua Men de Sá, 267 (close to the bus station, there are signs at the station showing the way), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Family-run, friendly pousada. Breakfast buffet, a swimming pool and even a tiny gym. Doubles from R$120.
- Hotel San Rafael , Rua Almirante Barroso No 1660. +55 45 3523-1611. A pleasant hotel with friendly staff. You can hire their tour guide, Val, who will take you to both sides of the falls. Hotel includes a gym and pool, which is needed as it gets very hot in Iguaçu in summer. Breakfast is included and there is a buffet in the evenings for R$20 a head.
- Vivaz Cataratas Hotel Resort, Av das Cataratas 6798, ☏ . Avenida das Cataratas. Resort offers 155 anti-allergic rooms with ceramic tiled floor and 102 rooms with balcony. The resort is surrounded by woods and gardens, in a green area of 130.000 m² of native forests and tropical gardens. Next to the hotel you can find Acquamania, a water park with pools, toboggans and buoy-cross.
- 1 Hotel Das Cataratas, Iguacu National Park, beside the Falls, ☏ . Fancy rooms, gourmet dining rooms, outdoor pool and tennis place. 203 rooms.
Crimes have happened to pedestrians walking across the Friendship Bridge. Tourists with cash and shopping products attracts criminals, and an attack is particularly easy because the walkway on both sides is narrow and enclosed by metal fencing on both sides, making escape impossible. One common attack is a group of 2-4 men with pistols who encircle groups of walkers, stealing all wallets, phones, and merchandise. Generally, the criminals throw their booty into bags and then leave towards the Paraguayan side (supposedly they bribe the Paraguayan police to allow them to pass unobstructed). Moto-taxis also participated in the attacks in 2018. Although there are border agents and police on both sides of the bridge, the bridge has no security, which further exacerbates the risk. Attacks in September 2018 were featured on TV news because of the severity. Despite the risk, many people, particularly daily commuters who work on both sides, still prefer to walk across the bridge in order to avoid the traffic jams and the expense of the bus. Realistically, the odds of being attacked if you walk across during the day are low, but it's important to be very cautious because attacks can and do happen every month. If you're at all concerned, hide your valuables, do not walk in groups but with locals, or simply take the bus.
- Iguaçu Falls- Obviously the most important attraction nearby Foz do Iguaçu. The world-famous falls.
- Puerto Iguazu- On the Argentinian side of the border, offers access to the Argentinian side of the falls and a number of casinos and shopping. Buses go from behind of Local Bus Terminal every 30-60 minutes and costs R$4. If you are staying for longer than a day you need to get off at each border and pass through immigration. Bus will not wait for you, so you will have to wait for the next bus, that you can board with the original ticket. As it is not far and buses do not go often, walking may be faster.
- Ciudad del Este - On the Paraguay side of the border, it is a rather chaotic mid-size town that serves as a shopping destination for Brazilians and Argentinians looking for low-tax imported goods.
Some taxis will take you to Puerto Iguazu and wait for you to pass through the two customs but are quite expensive. For example, taking the taxi only to the Argentinian border from Foz de Iguacu costs around R$40. You need to agree with the driver on a price before boarding as they don't want to use the meter for these sort of trips.