Foz de Iguaçu and the surrounding towns are eco-tourist and shopping destinations by excellence. However, not all locations are accessible for people who don’t have much money or want to spend little. Here I will make a description of the sites that I went, and I recommend visiting
Read how to move around the three borders and know how to get to the three cities.
I recommend you exchanging some money for the three currencies: Pesos Argentinos (Argentina), Guaraní (Paraguay) and Reais (Brazil). The three cities receive dollars but every place has their own price for it, so you will end up paying more. Keep the dollars only if you are buying products in Ciudad del Este market at downtown.
It’s the main tourist destination in the region. One of the seven wonders of nature by UNESCO. It’s a place you can’t miss. For this you need to save some money, the entry is not very cheap for foreigners. Brazil side (R $ 49.90) and Argentina side ($215 Argentine pesos). Altogether I ended up paying almost 50 dollars. MERCOSUR nationalities pay much less.
Both sides are well worth knowing. The Brazilian side has many more options of trails and walks (Macuco safari, nature trails, boating, etc), but most of them have additional cost besides the entrance to the park, which ends up popping the pocket of any visitor.
To get to the Brazilian side of the National Park, take the 120 Airport / National Park bus (R$ 2.85) to the final point at the falls.
The walk inside the park can be done easily at 1h30 min (without any additional package).
On the Argentine side trails go over the river that offers a totally different experience. Likewise, there are additional tours options, also with unfriendly prices.
Being in Puerto Iguazu, you have to catch the bus Cataratas (Waterfalls). You’ll pay $40 pesos for each path. Here, I made the journey without the “throat of the devil” or the island that were close for maintenance, in three hours.
I visited both sides of the falls in one day. I paid the regular price, without any additional package, and it was very worthwhile.
I also met people who were able to enter the National Park out of the tourist track, without pay, and with the possibility of bathing in the river, of course, accompanied by local people or tourist guides who know the region very well, especially in the Argentine side. I wasn’t that lucky. The falls are a sight you need to see with your own eyes. There is no video or photograph that can capture the immensity of this place.
Is on the side of the falls from the Brazilian side (foreigners: R$ 28). It’s a very nice place. It has a butterfly garden, reptiles and avian area. The difference is that you can enter into the bird cage and get pretty close to take pictures of them because they are used to the presence of people.
As a vet I do a pertinent clarification. I always listen to people who don’t like visiting zoos or places with animal in cages because they feel pity for them, and don’t want to support such institutions. There is no more wrong thinking.
The (good) zoos today are institutions that are in charge of shelter animals from the illegal traffic, animals that can’t be returned to their natural habitat. Also, do research and work in the conservation of species in risk of extinction and, they do environmental education to local and visitors.
If you want to do well to these animals, support these institutions. They work for their conservation.
Paraguay and Brazil has one of the largest Arab colonies on the continent. Both, in Foz de Iguaçu as Ciudad del Este you can visit Muslim mosques.
In Foz, the mosque is very close to the terminal. You can take 101, 102, 103, 104 bus, toward the bridge, and get off by the supermarket BIG. Hence, it’s only about 3 blocks walk to the mosque. Visitation is Monday to Friday, from 9h to 11h30 and from 14h to 17h and Saturday from 9h to 11h30. However, it is good to take a look at the site because you can’t enter into times of prayer. Muslims do five prayers a day, so have a look before going, so you don’t go and have to wait a long time outside the mosque.
In front of the mosque there is an Arabic sweets store called Almanara. There they sell pastries filled with nuts. They are really good. Also, you will be attended by a really kind girl. If you have to wait, stop to have coffee with some snacks.
It’s one of the largest hydroelectric in the world. It dams the Paraná River and is responsible for the generation of energy from Paraguay and Brazil. Considered as one of the wonders of the modern world, is a required visit on your trip. The immensity of the work is astonishing.
From the Brazilian side you have several options for visitation. They all are paid, the panoramic view is the cheapest tour is R$ 26. During the Fridays and Saturdays night you can make the visit to see the lighting of the dam. Find information on the website.
On the Paraguayan side the visit is free. The tour is every hour. It starts with a movie and then a guided tour of the dam. I highly recommend it. If you want to make a technical visit to understand the operation and reach the floor of the Paraná River, you can communicate with them 5 days in advance. Hence they will plan your visit for free as well. In the Brazilian side you can also make a technical visit but will have to pay for it.
To get to the Paraguayan side, you can take a bus to the center of Ciudad del Este. Then pick another one to the 4 km (which is a ring road within the city) and then take another bus towards Hernandárias, a small town nearby. Ask the driver to let you at Itaipu entrance, which is before entering the city. The trip from Km 4 it takes about 15 minutes.
If you want to save money and meet the dam, go the Paraguayan side. If money is not a problem, the visit to the Brazilian side is also recommended, and don’t need much displacement from Foz de Iguaçu.
Shopping in Paraguay (Ciudad del Este)
Shopping in Paraguay is one of the tourist attractions for Brazilians and Argentines who cross the border to save money. What many people overlook is that the center (commercial) of Ciudad del Este has nothing to do with the rest of the city, much less with the rest of the country. Those are different realities.
Also the center of Ciudad del Este is a place of business, noisy, messy and perhaps unsafe, is not a tourist spot of shopping or a duty-free. So don’t go expecting much comfort or luxury. Surely you will find really good prices in technology, branded clothes and beauty products.
Also don’t forget that returning to Brazil you may be checked, or not, at the immigration. The purchase limit, by land, is $300 but if you are buying personal items you won’t have problems, while they are outside the box.
The center of Puerto Iguazú (Argentina)
The center of Puerto Iguazú concentrates the nightlife of the three borders. Brazilians and Paraguayans cross borders to party, shop, put gas in their cars, or just to have dinner.
There is a place called A Feririnha, it is a simple grocery store, crammed with Brazilians, buying wines, olives and olive oil for a really good prices. Has some bars and restaurants where you can try regional food and have a beer at night.
Due to time and logistics issues I couldn’t visit places that people recommend, as the Buddhist Temple, the landmark of the three borders of the Argentine and the Brazilian side, the Duty free in Argentina, and other places you can find in the tour itineraries of the region. Everything will depend on the type of tourism, and the budget, you plan for your trip.
Also, read where to sleep at the three borders.