If you are like me and want to avoid an expensive transfer from the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls (Foz do Iguazu) to the Argentinian side (Puerto Iguazu), then look no further. I found a couple of blogs that didn’t give me all the information, and a few that scared me half to death for no reason, so let’s see if I can provide a clear and simple way for you to get a cheap bus from Foz do Iguacu to Puerto Iguazu. After you are in the city, it's also easy to visit the Cataratas, or falls at Iguazu (also spelled Iguaçu or Iguassu).
Cheap Bus from Foz do Iguazu to Puerto Iguazu (can be done in reverse)
While this does take a little planning (and some patience), it is extremely cheap to cross the border from Foz do Iguazu to Puerto Iguazu by public transit. There are two main bus companies that operate across the border – Rio Uruguay and Crucero del Norte. I never found a schedule for either of them, except that they usually start around 7 am and come every 20-30 minutes (BIG patience here as I had some friends wait 45 minutes for one). They both go by the TTU or Terminal de Transporte Urbano on Av. JK, but on the opposite side of the road from the actual terminal (you will see a green painted bus stop with “internacional lineas” on the post across Av. JK. They also go down Av. Juscelino Kubitscheck, so check with your accommodation to see if they stop closer to your hotel. In December 2023, the price was 15 BRL (cash) for the Rio Uruguay company. I believe the other company is comparable, but I would have a few extra reals in cash to be on the safe side (and inflation). They also take Argentinian Pesos, but with the current currency crisis, the pricing fluctuates.
Pro tips for the public transportation:
When you board the bus, you need to tell the driver “Brazil Immigration” or “Brasil Imigração” so they know to stop for you. Locals don’t need to stop at the immigration office so unless you tell the driver they will drive on through to Argentina and you will have some trouble. 😊
Another thing, make sure to get a receipt from the bus driver for your ticket. You will need it to reboard (more on that later).
Lastly, you will be left. When they come to Brazil immigration, you can alight but the bus won’t (usually) wait for you. That’s ok. Don’t panic. But do make note of the company you originally boarded because only that company will pick you up with your receipt to continue the journey. The bus ride to the Brazilian immigration is relatively short (maybe 10-20 minutes from downtown Foz do Iguazu). You will go through immigration and come back to the same side of the road (same stop) to wait for the next bus. Our next bus came about 20 minutes later but be prepared for slightly longer. We showed the next driver our receipt and hopped on for the 10-minute ride to the Argentina border. This time, the bus will wait as everyone (including locals) will have to alight. I’d encourage you to move as quickly as possible through the border crossing and keep an eye on the locals from your bus. There is a small café for drinks and food, but I don’t think the bus driver will wait for any snack stops. After you hop back on the bus this time, it’s smooth sailing and only about 20 minutes to the Puerto Iguazu bus terminal (Terminal de Buses De Puerto Iguazú).
If you know to ask for a bus ticket receipt and recognize that you will (very likely) be making a bus transfer at the Brazilian immigration stop, then you can handle the whole process well. I was able to get on a Rio Uruguay bus around 7:45 am outside my hotel on Av. JK (after only 10 minutes wait) and made it to the final Puerto Iguazu bus terminal just after 9 am. However, I would estimate a 2-hour crossing time. It’s best not to have a tight time crunch if you are planning to take public transport from Foz do Iguazu to Puerto Iguazu.
If you are planning to head to the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls, you will need to alight from this bus and switch to another Rio Uruguay bus to the Iguazu National Park (Argentina). Tickets can be purchased at the Puerto Iguazu bus terminal for 4,000 pesos round trip (as of Dec. 2023). Cash only.
Private Transfer Alternative from Foz do Iguazu to Puerto Iguazu
If you are tight on time or just don’t want to deal with the public transportation switcheroo and hoopla, you can hire a private transfer for door-to-door service. Iguazu Falls Travel offers private boarding crossings. I was quoted around $60 USD (as of Dec. 2023), significantly more than the $3 public transportation option, so you can see why I decided to take the other route.
Hopefully you feel confident to now try the public bus option to transfer from Foz do Iguazu a Puerto Iguazu. The bus is definitely the budget-friendly option and makes crossing the border between Brazil and Argentina at the Iguazu Falls that much easier. Give yourself a few hours and you should have no issues!