A small town with some big waterfalls, Puerto Iguazú is just a short ride away from the national park filled with magnificent falls that share its name.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site of cascading waters might be the main draw for tourists here, but visitors can easily occupy themselves with several eco-centric, cultural, and leisurely activities for a few days as well.
Located in the Littoral area of northern Argentina right next to the rainforest and the borders of Brazil and Paraguay, spend a day or two at the falls and then go exploring.
Around town and just outside of Puerto Iguazú, check out a few quirky attractions, learn about the indigenous Guaraní people, and see some of the exotic wildlife that this region is known for.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Puerto Iguazú:
1. Parque Nacional Iguazú
One of the natural wonders of the world and home to literally hundreds of waterfalls, Iguazú
Falls is the reason people come to town.
The Argentinean side of the national park provides plenty to do, so wander around even after you’ve visited the most famous set of cascading waters.
There are two main paths – the Circuito Superior (Upper Circuit) and the Circuito Inferior (Lower Circuit) – and a couple smaller trails that will take you around the jungle landscape for views of waterfalls.
Along the way you’ll see indigenous plants like ferns, orchids, and cacti, plus critters like capybaras, hummingbirds, and lizards.
There’s also a free boat you can take to Isla San Martin where you can hike more trails and sunbathe on an idyllic beach.
2. Garganta del Diablo
Take the train or walk to the start of the path which will take you to the lookout point for La Garganta del Diablo or the Devil’s Throat.
It’s the highest and most famous of all the waterfalls here in Iguazú, so get your cameras and your raincoats ready (it can get a little misty here). You’ll feel the power of nature as millions of liters of water rush down 262 feet (80 meters) from this complex of cascades in a U-shaped chasm.
Watch for butterflies, birds, and crocodiles around the river near the walkway, and be careful of the coatis (furry mammals) that will try to steal any food you might have.
3. Take a Cruise By the Falls
After you’ve gotten as close as you can to the falls on foot, go for an exciting boat trip up the Iguazú River to get even closer.
Bring your waterproof gear and a change of clothes and prepare to get drenched by these rushing waters in an exhilarating ride through the falls themselves.
You’ll have an incredibly different view of the falls from your perspective down in the river below.
Jet boats leave from the Circuito Inferior (Lower Trail) or Puerto Macuco, taking tourists through the rapids toward the cascades of water and directly into the San Martín waterfall.
Some boats provide waterproof storage, but be sure to put your electronics away before you get too close!
4. Go Ziplining
To add a little more adventure to your visit to Iguazú, head into the jungle to go ziplining with one of the tour agencies in town.
Take a ride through the countryside, a trek through the rainforest, and then arrive at the three ziplines which you’ll speed down one after the other.
After your canopy experience, there’s also rappelling down a waterfall, which is adventurous but still suitable for beginners and families.
Be prepared to get wet and muddy, and bring a bathing suit to do some swimming after you’re done.
It’s a good half-day adventure in the real jungle away from all the tourists of the national park.
5. La Casa de Las Botellas
This fascinating bungalow was built totally out of recycled bottles and pallets and other previously-used packaging materials and it’s worth a look around.
The home is a unique attraction and the owner, who helps build houses for less fortunate in the surrounding areas, can tell you all about the building techniques he and his family used during a guided talk.
It’s just 300 meters off the road to the falls, and they sell original crafts made from plastic bottles and tin cans here that make great gifts.
The home is full of decor and furniture made from things that would’ve just gone into a landfill, so you’ll see things like chairs made from old tires.
6. Go Shopping for Local Handicrafts
Do a little souvenir shopping at the arts and crafts market where you’ll find all of the typical Argentine stuff like mate and the accompanying bombillas (metal straws) used for sipping this traditional herbal drink.
You can buy handicrafts made by the local Guaraní, like ceramics, woven geometric-patterned baskets, carved wooden bowls, and the embroidered linen napkins and blouses known as aho-poi.
There’s also lots of jewelry and metalworking, and you can find semi-precious stones at excellent prices which are mined nearby.
There’s an artisan market located right next to the Hito Tres Fronteras (the landmark to the three borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay), and even more shopping along Avenida Victoria Aguirre and down Avenida Brasil.
7. La Aripuca
A family-owned eco-tourist attraction of sorts, La Aripuca is a huge house built from incredibly old tree trunks that contains different informative areas and displays.
Designed to teach visitors about the traditional culture of the Guaraní people and encourage preservation of environmental resources, the house itself was built based on the design of a trap used by the local people to catch animals.
You can stop by while you’re own your way from the town to the national park, and they have a market here that sells handicrafts and naturally-flavored ice cream like yerba mate and flower petal.
8. Guira Oga
To catch a glimpse of even more wildlife than you saw in the national park, head to this animal refuge where you’ll find tons of birds, from toucans and parrots to eagles and owls.
They’ve also got a few Capuchin monkeys, anteaters, capybaras, and other native mammals inside.
It’s a rescue center rather than a zoo, so most of the birds here were brought to be rehabilitated after being wounded in the park.
Some will be released in the future, while some can no longer survive in the wild and live at the reserve.
It’s just three miles from the town and guides will take you on a tour to see the animals and tell you about they work they do here.
9. Have a Jungle Spa Day
After a long day or two of hiking around the falls, head out of town to the middle of the jungle and get a massage surrounded by lush vegetation at Spa de la Selva.
Only a few kilometers away from Puerto Iguazú, enjoy treatments by professional staff amidst exotic birds and trees.
They have a gym, swimming pool, jacuzzi, and saunas for relaxing, in addition to several types of massages, manicures, pedicures, and yoga classes.
The spa also has unique treatments like mud therapy, chocolate baths, and hydrotherapy.
For something within the actual park, head to the Sheraton Iguazú or Hotel das Cataratas for luxurious treatments.
10. Visit the Indigenous Guaraní Community and Reserve
A community-based tourism project easily accessible from the city center of Puerto Iguazú, take a guided tour of the rainforest and indigenous settlement at Comunidad Mbya Guaraní Yryapú.
Learn about the customs of the Guaraní people and their way of living, while you visit where they grow vegetables and fruits and learn about local traditions.
You’ll listen to stories of the community’s history, religion, and language, and hear about their ancient methods for hunting, survival, and medicine.
Costs of tours go toward social and medical assistance, and you can purchase handicrafts like woven baskets, seed necklaces and bracelets, and carved wooden animal figures from local community members.
11. The Wanda Mines
These rainforest mines are where some of the best semi-precious stones – such as amethyst, agate, quartz, and topaz – are found in Argentina.
Around 40 miles (60 kilometers) from the city of Puerto Iguazú along the Paraná River, the mines are located in the town of Wanda, which was settled by Polish immigrants.
Mining companies have been operating here since the 1950s, and tourists can take guided tours to see where the gemstones are found and how the mining process works.
You’ll head down into the actual mines and learn how gemstones and geodes are formed, plus you’ll see the workshops where the stones are polished and cut.
12. Jardin de los Picaflores
You can get close to several species of beautiful flitting hummingbirds here as they come to eat at from a garden filled with tons of feeders.
It’s a tourist attraction located on the private property of a family who just loves hummingbirds (so make sure they’re open before you head over to their home). The owners have a passion for nature and care for the wild birds themselves, which all began when the hummingbirds started flocking to their garden to feed.
For a small entry fee, you can sit amidst the lush surroundings and feeders to watch and take photos, and the knowledgeable owners will help you identify the birds.
13. Take the Full Moon Tour of Iguazú
It only happens a few nights of each month, so if you’re here around the time of a full moon then you’re in luck! During these five nights every month, Iguazú National Park opens up for visitors to tour the falls by the moonlight and watch the hundreds of cascading falls on the Argentine side.
There are three tours a night, and guests take the train to Garganta del Diablo for a unique and magical experience, listening to the sounds of nocturnal nightlife along the way.
You’ll see the falls under the eerily beautiful lighting in a more intimate setting, and some are even lucky enough to catch a “midnight rainbow” made by the moonlight passing through the mists.
14. Yabotí Biosphere Reserve and Moconá Falls
Visit this rainforest reserve in the Misiones Province where eight Guaraní tribes still live today.
Named for the river that runs through it, you can float down the strong currents of water in inner tubes, go rafting, and venture down hiking trails in this pure Amazonian-like forest.
Also located within the reserve, the Moconá Falls are formed along the Uruguay River, but this curtain of water spans the length rather than the width of the river at 32 feet (10 meters) high, running parallel to the river itself.
The dense forests here have been threatened by logging though they’re home to endangered species of parrots and toucans, as well as jaguars and pumas.
Visitors can go birdwatching, kayaking, or take “safaris” to look for paw prints around this subtropical biosphere.
15. Have Drinks and Snacks at the Feirinha
This is the place to start your evening or enjoy happy hour in Puerto Iguazú.
Visit this strand of Brazilian shops and food stalls (especially on the weekend) for a cheap beer or glass of wine while you taste of traditional regional foods.
Grab a platter of picadas (or picanhas in Portuguese), an assortment of cold meats, cheeses, and olives and sit outside with a drink.
It’s a great local Brazilian market that’s great for a stroll or a small meal at affordable prices.
Located on Avenida Brasil, one of the main shopping areas in the city, you’ll find things like clothing, leather, and fútbol gear at one end of the street and these food and drink options at the other.
The best time to walk the Upper Circuit takes 1 to 2 hours, starting at the viewing tower and leading past Dos Hermanas (Two Sisters), Bossetti, Chico (Small), Ramírez, and San Martín (the park’s widest) falls.
You can come right to the edges of these falls and look over them – Along your walk, you can also look across to San Martín Island and the Brazilian side, and you’ll pass a number of small streams and creeks.
The 1.8km (1.25-mile) Lower Circuit takes 2 hours to walk, leading you first past Lanusse and Alvar Núñez falls, then along the Lower Iguazú River past the raging Dos Mosqueteros (Two Musketeers) and Tres Mosqueteros (Three Musketeers) falls.
The trail winds its way toward Ramírez, Chico, and Dos Hermanos falls.
Here, you’ll find an inspiring view of the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) and Bossetti falls.
From the Salto Bossetti waterfall, a small pathway leads down to a small pier, where you can catch a free boat to San Martín Island.