There are 2 popular ways to travel from Rio to Iguazu Falls:
- Overnight bus: 1,500 kilometres / 932 mile journey | takes 23 – 26 hours | $70 USD;
- Direct flight (2 hours) $80 – $300 USD.
We chose to fly from Rio to Iguazu Falls. However, we also know what it’s like to travel from Iguazu Falls by bus as we continued from Iguazu Falls to Buenos Aires on a “cama” sleeper bus.
Iguazu Falls has previously been named one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Like Niagra Falls, the waterfall spans countries from Brazil to Argentina. It’s also possible to visit a third country – Paraguay – which borders the two countries further upriver.
The Brazilian side is known as Foz Do Iguacu. I think due to pronunciation issues most English-speakers use the Spanish pronunciation of Iguazu Falls which is preferred on the Argentina side.
We’ll show you how to get from Rio de Janeiro to Iguazu Falls.
Flights from Rio to Foz do Iguacu
The most popular way to travel from Rio to Iguazu Falls is by flying.
On the Argentina side, the road from Iguazu Falls to Buenos Aires (1,300 kilometres) is less windy and a few hours faster. This isn’t the case on the Brazil side where the distance is 1,500 kilometres.
The other big factor why people prefer to fly from Rio to Iguazu, but then take the bus from Iguazu to Buenos Aires, is that flights in Brazil are much cheaper than in Argentina.
In Brazil it’s possible to fly from Rio to Iguazu Falls or Iguazu to Rio for as little as $80 USD taking only 2 hours. We flew with LATAM airlines which was fine.
To score these deals you will need to be a little flexible – check your dates using the calendar view here on Skyscanner.
One thing we liked about flying to Iguazu Falls was the convenience of getting from Iguacu airport to the city by public transport.
Just look for the signs saying “Parada de Autobus” though they are also marked in English.
Bus Rio de Janeiro to Iguazu Falls
The bus from Rio to Iguazu Falls takes 23 – 26 hours as you travel 1,500 kilometres through several Brazilian states.
There are three (3) main companies which travel the route:
- Catarinense – http://www.catarinense.com.br/
- Pluma Internacional – http://www.pluma.com.br/
- Nordeste – http://www.expnordeste.com.br/
South America Overnight Bus Experience
If the bus from Rio to Iguazu will be your first overnight bus in South America, we’ll explain some basics so you know what to expect.
Firstly, bus travel in South America is surprisingly luxurious. There are three seat options: Cama (meaning bed), semi-cama and a regular seat. In Brazil cama is sometimes called “Leito”.
Think of a “cama” seat like a business-class seat on an airline. Your seat will recline to almost a flat bed, your seat will have an individual TV system + power plug and you will be served meals and alcohol along the way. The usual seat configuration for cama seats is 2 – 1 meaning in each row there are two seats together and one single seat on the other side of the aisle.
These seats are particularly convenient for couples but aren’t so close that you’ll hate having to site next to someone you don’t know. If you are travelling solo – try to get the single seats of course.
Semi-cama seats recline 140 – 160 degrees but don’t expect a personal TV or spacious seat. The seating confirmation is usually 2 – 2 with two seats on each side of the aisle. This means the seats are far less spacious than the cama option. Often meals are served but not always.
A regular seat is still padded (it’s not like a park bench), but don’t expect a good sleep as you’ll be upright the whole way. Think of it like a seat on a budget airline like WizzAir, Ryainair or South America’s equivalent – SkyAirlines. All overnight buses in Colombia have A/C. Wifi – even where offered – almost never worked.
During our trip from Brazil to Colombia we travelled by overnight bus in cama seats wherever we could. Not only do they save you a night’s accommodation, they are relatively comfortable and you can wake up in a new city or town ready to explore the next day.
Ordering a ticket is simple and can be done at most Bus terminals with no extra fees (or online for a few dollars more). Consider learning some simple Spanish phrases to help you get around Argentina and South America. Even in Brazil where they speak Portuguese knowing some Spanish may help you get further than English.
Rio Bus Iguazu Falls Bus Schedule
The timetable for the Rio to Iguazu Falls bus is as follows:
- 13:00 – 15:35 (next day) Catarinense (cama or semi-cama)
- 13:30 – 14:30 (next day) Pluma (semi-cama reclining seat)
Buses from Rio to Iguazu depart daily from Rodoviaria Novo Rio bus terminal.
Click here for Google Maps directions or use the map below.
Reverse Journey Bus Schedule
The timetable for the Iguazu Falls to Rio de Janeiro bus is as follows:
- 13:30 – 17:05 (next day) Catarinense (cama or semi-cama)
- 12:30 – 12:50 (next day) Pluma (semi-cama reclining seat)
Buses in Iguazu depart from the Foz de Iguacu station which you can find here or using the map below.
Where to Stay near the Falls
In Rio de Janeiro we recommend staying in Catete which is an up-and-coming neighbourhood conveniently located between downtown Rio de Janeiro (where you’ll find historical buildings like the impressive opera) and the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana.
Search for cheap hotels in Catete, Rio de Janeiro here.
More Brazil Travel Blog Posts
Honeymoon in Rio de Janeiro – there’s way more to Rio than Christ the Redeemer. We’ll show you what not to mimss
Iguazu Falls to Buenos Aires – check out a video and tonnes more photos on what to expect on an Iguazu Falls overnight bus
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