Iguazu Falls Itinerary


When we booked our trip to Brazil, we knew that Rio and Iguassu Falls were on our agenda. Our biggest question was how many days to allocate to each. Each area has its own draw and their characteristics are dramatically different. We’d read many blogs and forums where people discussed spending a single day at Iguassu Falls – maybe two – before moving on to other cities or towns in Brazil or Argentina. The falls themselves are the obvious draw, but to really experience the Iguassu area and delve into the region with a blend of adventure and relaxation, 3 days at Iguassu Falls provides the perfect time frame to enjoy what the area has to offer without spreading yourself too thin.

5 Must-Have Experiences at Iguazu Falls

Here’s how we allocated our time at Iguassu Falls, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The order of these activities will be a bit weather dependent. For example, we’d originally wanted to do Argentina on day two, but when the day brought thick cloud coverage and promises for clear skies the next day, we swapped our schedules a bit to make the most of good weather days. If possible, I’d highly recommend you do the same. One of the benefits of having three days vs. one is that you’ll actually have the ability to ride out some bad weather conditions. In our case, two out of three days brought clouds and drizzle, but all we really needed was one sunny day to have a truly standout experience.

Day 1: Arrival, Parque das Aves + Evening to Relax

Parque das Aves, BrazilBelmond Hotel das Cataratas

We arrived at the Foz do Iguacu airport in Brazil in the early hours of the afternoon. This is a small airport so getting through was a breeze and finding a cab was a simple proposition. Within a few minutes we had exchanged money (great exchange rate at the airport actually!), hopped in a taxi and cabbed our way to the entrance of the national park. We had an entire afternoon and evening ahead of us to explore but also realized that we weren’t 100% energized after the 25 hours of travel time. To keep things simple but fun, we headed to Parque das Aves near the entrance to the park. We arrived around 2:30PM and gave ourselves about an hour and a half to walk around and leisurely explore the space without any set timeframe in mind. That left us plenty of time to get back to the hotel and sip a caipirinha while scoping out the falls from our room before dinner.

Read about Parque das Aves here.

Note: If you’re visiting the falls at a time where they offer the full moon tour, this could be a great night to sneak in that opportunity! As you may imagine from the tour title, the excursion only happens during a full moon so you either have to time your dates accordingly or luck into it.

Day 2: Macuco Safari + Helicopter Tour

Macuco Safari, Iguassu FallsHelicopter Ride over Iguassu Falls

Depending on weather and forecasts, my day 2 and 3 listed here may be necessarily swapped. Our day two brought a bit of cloud coverage but we had heard that the following day would bring better weather with more sunshine. Knowing that we’d prefer to hike around the falls with the sun out for full effect (those rainbows!), we opted to join the Macuco Safari experience and a helicopter tour of the falls on day two.

Allocate about two to three total hours for the Macuco Safari between getting to the site, the jungle drive, the boat experience, etc. We opted for an 11AM ride which gave us time to sleep in a bit and have breakfast without feeling rushed at all.

After the safari experience, we headed back to the hotel for a quick change (not really necessary), and then headed to the Helisul station for a helicopter experience at around 2:30PM. The helicopter tour is pretty quick – about ten minutes – so you’ll still have an entire afternoon to relax or scope out the falls. The helicopter tours run regularly until 5PM or so and no appointment is necessary so you can factor this into your itinerary at your leisure.

Finally, if you’re staying at Hotel das Cataratas, take a few minutes to head to the tower to scope out the park from its highest point before heading to the bar for the evening. The tower offers a pretty view of surroundings and there’s a fair chance you’ll be the only people up there.

Read about the macuco safari here and the helicopter tour here.

Day 3: The Falls {Brazil + Argentina}

Iguazu Falls ItineraryIguassu Falls: Brazil vs. Argentina

If you have sunshine in your forecast, be sure to explore the falls in the best available weather. This seems like an obvious statement and I’ve clearly stressed this point already, but it really is worth mapping out your itinerary based on what the weather gods are bestowing upon you for your time in the region. Seeing the falls with rainbows dancing around them is utter magic. There’s no other way to put it.

If you have access to the Brazilian side before opening hours (before 9AM), take the time to journey to the main viewing platform so you can scope out the landscape without anyone else in sight. There’s something super special about being there alone with the world and you only have a finite window in which to make that happen.

Afterwards, head to the Argentinian side. Read my post on our day in Argentina so you can learn more about how to make that happen. You’ll want about 4 hours in the park and will  also need to allocate about an hour and a half for transport time round trip. The Argentinian side does provide a great, alternative perspective to the Brazilian side and is a lovely way to spend a day if you’re able.

Day 4 // Departure

The sad goodbye! We were genuinely sad to be leaving Iguassu Falls and specifically our hotel which was nothing short of spectacular. Take the morning to head to the falls one last time and say your goodbye if you’re staying within the park’s boundaries.

This itinerary gave us the perfect blend of R&R and sightseeing + adventure. You could cram in the same amount in less time (i.e. you could do all of these things in two busy days), but I would highly recommend giving yourself sufficient time to really enjoy the area. It’s truly a lovely spot and having a bit of time on your side will allow you to play the weather card to your advantage a bit more.

If you’ve visited Iguassu before, how long did you stay? How long would you recommend to someone who’s never been?


Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.