Things to Do in Foz do Iguacu
Iguaçu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu), the largest waterfalls system in the world, are truly awe-inspiring to behold. Though Argentina boasts better trails around the falls, Brazil is blessed with the best views of this natural marvel’s 275 separate cascades, which span the border between the two countries. Take in full-frontal views of Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo), San Martin Island, and more from the short-but-sweet catwalks that wind their way around the Brazilian side of Iguaçu Falls.
Set near the convergence of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, Itaipu Dam (Barragem de Itaipu) is considered one of the World’s Seven Modern Wonders, clocking in at 4.5-miles (7.2-kilometers) long and 65 stories high. With a maximum flow up to 40 times more powerful than nearby Iguassu (Iguaçu) Falls, the dam’s hydroelectric power plant produces roughly 20 percent of Brazil’s electricity.
The Dreamland Wax Museum (aka Dreamland Foz), the largest of its kind in Brazil, houses more than 70 life-size wax figures. Get up close and personal with representations of Pope John Paul II, Madonna, Charlie Chaplin, Neymar Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, and many more.
Iguassu Falls are famously shared between three nations: Brazil, Argentina and tiny Paraguay (which doesn't actually claim any part of the primary falls, only the rivers). Though the actual Tripitarte, or triple border, lies unmarked at the deepest part of the confluence of the Iguazu and Parana rivers, all three nations have erected monuments—built around obelisks painted patriotically with the colors of their respective flags—overlooking the spot.
Originally erected in 1903, the memorials are built around three simple cement obelisks, painted in the patriotic colors of the three respective flags. The view is nice, and all three monuments are surrounded with vendors selling snacks and souvenirs. The Argentine landmark has the distinction of being the easiest to visit, a pleasant walk from the city center along the riverfront.
Brazil's Marco das Tres Fronteiras(Three Borders Landmark) was originally erected on July 20, 1903, overlooking the pretty scene and international bridges. Though it sits on the outskirts of Foz de Iguacu city, it does bring in tourists, as well as vendors selling souvenirs and snacks. Next door, the Space of the Americas tourist complex offers meals and views in more relaxed environs.
What do you do when you’re in rural Argentina? Feast on churrasco and enjoy a lively dance show, of course. Just across the Brazilian border in Foz do Iguaçu, the Rafain Churrascaria dinner show gives a flamboyant introduction to Central and South American music, dress, and dance, alongside an all-you-can-eat churrasco buffet.
This elegant example of neo-Gothic architecture, easily Brazil's finest, might seem more at home in Medieval France than the rainforests of the New World. But the graceful symphony of peaked arches and delicately rendered 82m (169ft) towers, built between 1928 and 1932, is right here in Santa Cruz do Sul.
Sao Joao Batista, which overlooks the pretty parks and fountains of popular Getúlio Vargas Square, offers a pale pastel interpretation of classic Gothic aesthetics; the interior murals and lovely stained glass seem to invite light and cheer into the imposing structure. It is considered one of the most beautiful cathedrals in South America.
The cathedral is only one of this mid-sized city's attractions. The Autodromo Internacional de Santa Cruz do Sul hosts popular racing events year-round. The crowds multiply in late September, when Santa Cruz, founded in the 1840s by German settlers, begins its outrageous and world-famous Octoberfest celebration.
Photo courtesy of Klaus with a K via Wikimedia Commons