How to get to Iguazu Falls from Paraguay by public transport!

Table of Contents

Introduction

Before travelling to Paraguay, we had planned to go overland from Asunción to Ciudad del Este and from Ciudad del Este to Puerto Iguazu (Argentinian side). We had seen plenty of information about how to get from Argentina to Brazil, Brazil to Paraguay and even Argentina to Paraguay, but nothing about getting to Iguazu Falls from Paraguay.

The trip from Paraguay to Argentina is actually really easy, but since information was lacking online, we decided to make our own easy-to-follow guide.

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A view over the Argentinian side of Iguazu falls, you can see that they are vast, green and extensive
Iguazu Falls, Argentinian Side

Paraguay is a country that sadly many people skip in South America or else race through on their way to somewhere else. In our opinion, this truly is a missed opportunity, as Paraguay has so much to offer, culturally, historically and in so many other ways. It is also the ideal gateway to Argentina and Brazil (and also Bolivia!) as flights to Asunción tend to be much cheaper than Rio, São Paulo and Buenos Aires, and it’s very easy to get between the three countries. For our trip, we started in Asunción and needed to end up in Rio, with a stop in Iguazu along the way.

Speaking as two people who had just completed 6 months travelling around Africa via public bus, this leg of the journey from Paraguay to Argentina was, to us, a piece of cake. We booked our tickets through BusBud online, which we found super easy to use and pretty reasonable in price.

The one small thing we’d say needs to be noted is that the departure location is not noted on the tickets for Asunción and we did need to double check with a local – it’s the central bus station in Asunción, NSA Bays (marked below on the map). We found this easier than booking in person since it was all done before we arrived in Paraguay and we had nothing to worry about while we were there.

Once you’re in Ciudad del Este, you will be on the border of Brazil and Argentina, so it’s very easy to get to both countries.

What is the bus like?

Actually, we found it pretty cushty! The seats are pretty spacious with nice leg rests I’d never seen before. It’s really hard to convey what these were like but I’ve put a video below (sorry it’s not the best quality but it shows what I mean). It’s a sort of leg assist that means you can stretch out a bit more – very hard to describe but super comfortable!

The buses had an upper and lower deck (we sat on the upper) with charging points, air con and cushioned seats. The upper deck even had a coffee station but this didn’t seem to work or produce any coffee. There were a few delays so the journey took us around seven hours, though Google said five, but to be honest we sort of expected that.

I feel like bus journeys in most places do take longer than a car anyway!

Is it worth visiting Asunción?

Honest review: 1000 times yes! Asunción is a city that really stuck with us and we would recommend a few nights at least to make the most of it and get to grips with its fascinating history and friendly local culture.

To orient yourself, we suggest booking this fab GuruWalk tour on the first day you arrive, and we cannot recommend highly enough for another day a Chacarita tour with Chacatours (the Chacarita is a shanty town in Asunción, you can find out more about it here) to find out more about the local culture and people of the city. Asunción doesn’t perhaps have the wow factor of Rio or Buenos Aires, but it’s a really cool city with a lot of heart and it truly is worth your time.

Where to stay: we stayed in the Residencia Leones de Castilla and it was really nice. It’s a little out of town in an area called Recoleta but we didn’t mind that as Ubers and public transport were very affordable, and it saved us a lot on accommodation costs. Recoleta is a nice neighbourhood, with plenty of supermarkets and places to eat, and the guesthouse itself was sweet – they had a lovely courtyard area, and a fantastic restaurant just next door, which was really cheap and delicious. We at there a few times!

Find accommodation for your trip below:

A purple Jacaranda tree in Paraguay in the middle of a park
Jacaranda trees in Asuncion

In our opinion, yes, it’s worth a couple of nights, though it wasn’t really our sort of place.

The main reason we visited was for the Saltos del Monday Falls, which are beautiful but we highly recommend visiting them BEFORE visiting Iguazu to avoid disappointment. They are super pretty and surprisingly large, but of course they are bound to be overshadowed by Iguazu being that it is so majestic and iconic.

The rest of Ciudad del Este is a little disappointing quite honestly, unless you are really keen on shopping. As a border town, it’s earned a reputation for being the best place in the country (and possibly the continent) to pick up cheap electronics and designer goods – just make sure you’re getting what you asked for, as we heard there are a few scams!

Like we said, as sustainable travellers, it isn’t really our kind of place, but we thoroughly enjoyed Saltos del Monday and the vegetarian restaurant just up the road from there (Natu Centre – such good food and lovely local service). You can easily get to the falls through public transport/Uber, but if you want to get a bit more out of the experience and see some more of the city, we recommend this Viator tour, which covers a lot for one day and takes you to the falls as part of the experience.

Where to stay: we stayed in the Nova Hotel, which is an affordable 3*. It was fine for what we needed, nice and central, nothing too fancy, but clean and comfortable. We’d happily recommend this one too.

Saltos del Monday falls on the way from Paraguay to Argentina
Saltos del Monday Falls are easy to access from Ciudad del Este

Yes you can, but you probably don’t want to go straight to the Argentinian side. In order to get from Paraguay to Argentina overland, avoiding the boat method, you need to go through Brazil (Foz do Iguaçu) as this is where all the buses run. There is a bridge that runs from Paraguay to Brazil and then you need to go through Foz do Iguaçu into Argentina (Puerto Iguazu) afterwards.

From our perspective, this was a huge hassle. First we didn’t actually have much passport space left, so we could have done without the extra Brazilian stamps, and secondly it takes way longer. Plus, we were visiting Brazil later, so it just didn’t make any sense to us at all.

It made a lot more sense from our perspective to travel from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay to Argentina (Puerto Iguazu) via boat, which is a short crossing, and on the Argentinian side, you can pretty much walk to your accommodation if you’re staying anywhere in the centre of town.

From the centre of Ciudad del Este, you can easily take a bus or an Uber to the main ferry port, which is called Tres Fronteras. Any hotels will know where to direct you and taxi drivers will be very familiar with it.

If taking an Uber, you’ll be dropped at the immigration desks, where you’ll have your passport stamped and your documents checked. After that, head down to the ferry dock, where you can wait for the ferry. They seem to go roughly every half an hour and go back and forth as needed.  We only had to wait about 15 minutes before the ferry arrived to pick us up.

Note that there is nowhere to sit at all, and it’s quite dusty – we ended up sitting on our bags while we waited. There are no facilities either, so if you’ll need food, get it before you go, and go to the toilet too. It is also pretty inaccessible, as it’s quite a steep slope with uneven road and no handle or railing. Those with mobility issues are best
to self-drive. If you’re driving, you can drive right down to the water’s edge, where you’ll then be able to drive onto the ferry.

A bleak view of the river with three cars waiting to board the ferry, which is a very small passenger boat
The ferry port in Paraguay

You buy your tickets as you are going through immigration and there are super cheap – around 15,000 Guarani, less than 2$ each.

Going from Paraguay to Argentina is actually cheaper than the other way round (at least from the prices we saw online for the Argentinian side), so this is one more benefit to starting in Paraguay.

You can’t pre-book these, but you won’t need to. The ferries rarely fill up, and they run so regularly that you could always just wait for the next one.

Immigration

Of course we can’t speak for all passports, but for us, the border crossing was speedy on both sides. Going from Paraguay to Argentina, we got a quick stamp to leave, with no questions or issues. Getting off the other side in Argentina, we actually didn’t even get a stamp – we didn’t realise this but apparently they aren’t required for British passport holders, so that was a bit of a win!

How long does the boat to Iguazu Falls from Paraguay take?

The boat itself takes around 15 minutes – it’s really fast! Considering that the bus to Foz do Iguacu is at least half an hour, not including border immigration, plus then you have to get through Foz do Iguacu (a large city) to Argentina afterwards, we’d say this option is much more time efficient. All in all, from Paraguay to Argentina door to door to and from our accommodation each side, it took us around 1 hour 15 minutes, including all immigration and transport.

It’s tiny! It’s really a small passenger boat with around 10 plastic seats on the top deck (where we sat) and a lower deck compartment with about the same amount. There’s no shelter at all so you might get rained on (like we did). There are also no facilities at all, but luckily it doesn’t take very long. You’ll pass Brazil on the way (you’ll see the big suspension bridge which is used to get between Brazil and Paraguay).

We were walking, so this wasn’t really a consideration for us, but we noticed they could fit around 5 cars onto the ferry, and you drive right on from the water’s edge (they put down a little ramp onto the ferry). It’s worth bearing in mind if there are a few cars already there (there were around 4 when we were there), you might have to wait for the next ferry to come.

A sunset view of the Brazilian side of Iguassu Falls. Emma and Murray are looking out over it and having the whole place to themselves
Iguassu Falls Brazilian side, which is also absolutely worth a visit!

How long to stay in Puerto Iguazu?

Apart from the obvious (the Falls), there’s not a huge amount to do in Puerto Iguazu and it’s a little tacky in our opinion (sadly often the case for places built around major tourist attractions like this). They do have a view point (known as Tres Frontieres) where you can see all three intersecting countries (Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil). There are a few gift shops here and it’s quite touristy, but it is interesting to see.

Otherwise, Puerto Iguazu is a pretty small town with a couple of main streets. There is a good selection of bars and restaurants, but sadly in the main tourist area, local food is a bit lacking (though there seems to be a lot of Mexican food on offer!).

The best bar we found on the main strip was Patagonia, which is a brewery bar, showcasing lots of local beers, and they have a pretty good food menu too. Otherwise, if you are looking for more local cuisine, we suggest getting away from the main part of town and trying some side streets. If you walk down to Tres Frontieres, there are a few local places, which have some nice options.

Where to stay: Many people choose instead to stay inside the park at the Melia and experience a few different activities around the Falls. We checked this out ourselves and it has some pretty beautiful views (though in our opinion, not quite as good as the Belmond on the Brazilian side!) – if you stay here, be sure to get up for a stunning sunrise!

Personally we stayed in a small guesthouse in town but off the main strip called Iguazu Hojas Verdes, which was really great! The staff were English speaking, it was walking distance to town (about 5 minutes) and the port (about 10 minutes) and had a pretty garden area with everything we needed, without the price tag of staying inside the park.

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    Post written by Emma

    Emma

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