The comparison between the Niagara Falls & the Iguazu Falls is rather simple. As I have been to many of the water falls around the world I can tell you that both of these places offer something unique. I have even gone to the Victoria Falls in Zambia and visited the unique Devil’s Pool where you are able to swim on the actual edge of the Falls.
Niagara Falls is about as commercial as it gets, it could easily be labeled a tourist trap. The Iguazu Falls, on the other hand, is a more genuine experience with nature and animals. Both offer boat trips which are described in this post and you should also know that after you visit Iguazu you won’t be impressed with Niagara.
Both should definitely be placed on your to do list. While Niagara resides on the border of Canada and the United States near Buffalo, New York, the Iguazu Falls reside at the border of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. Since many people dont know about the Iguazu falls, you should know that they are commonly known as Brazil falls or Argentina falls. The Iguazu falls are larger than Niagara and even wider as it has a span of falls throughout the area. The Let’s compare!
The atmosphere at Niagara is of a tourist town while the Iguazu Falls is more of a national park (both at the Brazil falls side and Argentina Falls side). At Niagara you walk right along the road where in Iguazu there is a nature trail leading you throughout most of the park (you get a great view of rio Iguazu or Iguazu river that feeds the falls).
Since Niagara is more commercialized (think of Orlando without all the rides) they have all the amenities available for a good old fashioned tourist trap; Starbucks, 360 degree revolving restaurant, and even casinos! Nothing like getting a little wet and losing money on the same day.
The Iguazu Falls is in the middle of nowhere so once you see the falls you have to catch a bus back to the city of Iguazu. No casinos or other tourist traps at Iguazu. All the restaurants and shops at Iguazu are cabin themed since you are literally walking through a national park.
The case of the torrential mist was realized both at Iguazu (picture above) and Niagara. Both parks offer boats leading into the falls. At Niagara Falls, they call it the maid of the mist (I like to call it maid of the torrential mist) while in Iguazu they call it “boat to the falls” (very unique I know).
Both are worth paying for but after going on the boat to Iguazu I really wasn’t impressed with the Maid of the Mist at Niagara. Iguazu is a lot more fun since you are on a speed boat rather than a big ship and they actually you drive you inside of the falls rather then just getting a little close like at Niagara.
A very organized operation, maid of the mist grazes the area of the Horseshoe falls (Niagara on the Canadian side) getting you close enough to get a good picture. In comparison, at Iguazu you get so close to the falls you can feel the water bouncing of your face. You can also feel every wave as the Spanish tour operators dare you to ask to get closer.
One thing that you have to see at Iguazu is the Devil’s Throat on the Argentina side of the falls. There is a wooden walkway (a never ending wooden walkway) that leads all the way to the actual falls. The sheer size and volume of water that flows through the Devi’ls Throat is truly impressive. You can stand there for hours and admire the flow of water.
Getting to Iguazu Falls is a bit more difficult than getting to Niagara Falls. Niagara is a few hours either by plane or bus from any major city in the North East United States and only an hour from Toronto, Canada. You can also get there via rail very easily as well. Both countries offer convenient mass transit so you can get around with ease to and from both falls.
You can fly into Puerto Iguazu but that option does get expensive. The best option is to take a bus: plush leather seats that fold out into beds, wi-fi, and breakfast and dinner. The only downside is that it takes about 16-20 hours to get there! Ouch.
Verdict: Definitely see both but if you have an option choose Iguazu (Argentina Falls side first then the Brazil Falls side). You can make that as a part of your trip to Argentina and/or Brazil. Check out our Top 5 Argentina tourist attractions for things to do in Argentina and things to do in Canada!