Planning a Trip
By Plane -- Both Gol (tel. 0300/115-2121) and TAM (tel. 045/4002-5700) have daily flights, connecting through São Paulo or Curitiba. Book ahead in peak season; flights fill up quickly.
The Aeroporto Internacional Foz do Iguaçu (tel. 045/3521-4200) is on BR-469 halfway between downtown and the national park. The 13km (8-mile) taxi ride to downtown Iguaçu costs about R$30 to R$40 (US$15-US$20/£8-£11). Many of Iguaçu's hotels are on the highway into town, making taxi fare considerably less. A bus connecting the airport to downtown takes 45 minutes; the fare is R$1.50 (US75¢/£.40). The airport's tourist information desk is open daily from 9am to midnight.
By Bus -- Long-distance buses arrive at the Terminal Rodoviario, Av. Costa e Silva s/n (tel. 045/3522-3633). The station is 4km (2 1/2 miles) northeast of downtown. The bus station has a tourist information office, open daily from 9am to 6pm. For buses to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Curitiba, or Florianópolis, as well as long-distance buses to Argentina (Buenos Aires) and Paraguay (Asunción), contact Pluma bus company (tel. 045/3522-2515).
By Car -- Foz do Iguaçu is 1,200km (744 miles) from São Paulo and 620km (384 miles) from Curitiba on BR-277.
Iguaçu's tourist bureau employs excellent English-speaking attendants who have up-to-date and accurate information at their fingertips. They also give out free maps of the city. The main tourist information center is at Praça Getulio Vargas (Av. JK and Rua Rio Branco) (tel. 045/3521-1455; www.fozdoiguacu.pr.gov.br; Mon-Fri 9am-5pm). There are also tourist information booths at the airport and bus station, or you can call the Iguaçu tourist information service Teletur (tel. 0800/451-516 toll-free within Brazil). The service operates daily from 7am to 11pm.
A small, modern city of 250,000 people, Foz do Iguaçu (normally just called Iguaçu) is effectively located on a peninsula. West of the city is the Rio Paraná and, beyond that, Paraguay. North of the city lies Lago de Itaipu, a great man-made lake created by putting up the world's largest hydroelectric dam across the Rio Paraná; the dam is well worth a visit. To the south of the city lies Rio Iguaçu and, beyond it, Argentina. The falls are upstream on this river, a 28km (18-mile) drive southeast from downtown. The city's downtown is small and easy to navigate, but offers few attractions. Just north of downtown, BR-277 comes in from Curitiba and São Paulo and crosses the Ponte da Amizade (Friendship Bridge) into Paraguay. At the southern end of downtown, Avenida das Cataratas (BR-469) tracks southeast toward Iguaçu National Park and the falls. There are quite a few good hotels, some other attractions, and restaurants along this road. About 7km (4 1/4 miles) from downtown, there's a turnoff for the Ponte Tancredo Neves, which crosses into Argentina. Public buses take this route, and border formalities are minimal. The road to the falls, now called Rodovia das Cataratas, continues past the airport turnoff until, at 17km (11 miles) from the city, it reaches the gates of Iguaçu National Park.
By Bus -- City buses begin and end their routes at the Terminal Urbana on Avenida Juscelino Kubitschek (also called Av. J.K.-pronounced "zhota ka") at the corner of Avenida República Argentina. Buses for the airport and the falls run along Avenida JK and Avenida Jorge Schimmelpfeng to the Avenida das Cataratas. Falls buses are marked CATARATAS (fare is R$2/US$1/£.50) or PARQUE NACIONAL (fare is R$1/US50¢/£.25). They run every 20 minutes until 6:40pm. The trip to the park gate and visitor center takes 45 minutes. From the park gate, a free shuttle (departing every 20 min.) will take you the rest of the way to the falls. Getting to the Argentine Falls by bus is cheap but time-consuming. The one-way trip takes about 90 minutes.
By Taxi -- There are taxi pontos (stands) throughout the city or you can flag a taxi on the street. A trip across town costs around R$15 (US$7.50/£4). A trip from the city center to a hotel on the Avenida das Cataratas costs between R$20 (US$10/£5.40) and R$35 (US$18/£9.50). A taxi from the center of town to the park gates costs R$40 (US$20/£11). Hiring a taxi to take you to the Argentine Falls and wait while you see them then bring you back costs about R$180 (US$90/£49). Coopertaxi (tel. 0800/524-6464 or 045/3529-8821) has cabs available 24/7.
By Car -- Renting a small car to travel to the Argentine Falls is a reasonable option. The cost is about the same as a tour, and rental and border hassles are minimal. You'll need a credit card, a valid state or provincial driver's license, and some other piece of ID (for example, a passport). Prices at Avis (tel. 045/3529-6160) and Yes (tel. 045/3522-2956) are similar: about R$110 (US$55/£30) for a subcompact with air-conditioning for a 24-hour day with unlimited mileage, plus R$15 to R$30 (US$7.50-US$15/£4-£8) for optional insurance. Gasoline is extra. Expect to spend about R$25 (US$13/£6.75) for a trip to the Argentine Falls. Both companies provide free hotel pickup and drop-off. With Avis, airport drop-off is free; Yes charges R$10 (US$5/£2.70).