This spectacular landscape of crashing waterfalls was once held sacred by the Guarani people, who called it Iguassu, or "Big Water." Straddling the border of Brazil and Argentina, Iguassu Falls is an incredible natural attraction of 275 waterfalls of various sizes, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Puerto Iguazu is the Argentina gateway - from here you can tour the Brazilian side, tour both sides and take other sightseeing tours to nearby attractions like the San Ignacio Mission or the Itaipu Dam on the Brazil-Paraguay border.
While Argentina, with 80% of the falls, has more trails and activities, the Brazilian side, with tours leaving from Foz do Iguacu, offers the finest views. Pedestrian walkways descend into the fierce rainbow-strewn mists of Fiorano Falls, and take in panoramic vistas over the massive flowing curtain of Rivadavia Falls, which cascades across a plateau.
Iguacu Falls is not the only natural wonder in this amazing neighborhood. Just 10km (6mi) from Foz do Iguacu, massive Itaipu Dam was, until recently, the world's largest man made structure (since eclipsed by China's Three Gorges Dam) and is still the world's most productive hydroelectric facility.
The dam is considered one of the World's Seven Modern Wonders, clocking in at 7.2km (4.5mi) long, 65 stories high, with a maximum flow more than 40 times that of Iguacu Falls on a good day.
In fact, Itaipu marks the spot where an almost equally epic cascade was once the centerpiece of Guaira Falls National Park. The "Seven Falls of Guaira" (actually 18 cascades on the Parana River, gushing twice as much water as Niagara Falls) were drowned in 1982 when the dam was under construction. The national park was dissolved, the cliffs dynamited underwater to ensure safer navigation on the new reservoir, and today Itaipu produces more than 20% of Brazil's electricity.
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.
Located just over the hill from downtown Florianopolis, the Lagoa da Conceição neighborhood is situated on a lagoon that bears the same name. This is Florianopolis’ oldest neighborhood and still retains some of the colonial architecture from centuries ago. Today, the area is known as the city’s laid‐back, eclectic beach neighborhood, often hosting a wealth of outdoor activities, charming boutiques, great restaurants and fun nightlife. Lagoa de Conceição’s central location near downtown, the beaches and various areas of interest make it a favorite spot for visitors to stay and for locals to live.
This is where mountains meet lagoons, sand dunes and beaches — and this sort of diverse landscape and natural beauty promotes an active lifestyle. Visitors can experience this outdoor‐lover’s haven like the locals do and kitesurf or paddleboard on the lagoon, sandboard the dunes, surf the legendary waves, jog along the scenic paths or set up a game of beach volleyball.
A signature site of the city, the Curitiba Botanical Garden combines serene greenery with stunning architecture. The gardens were created in the style of the French royal gardens, but feature Brazil’s tropical flora and fauna. The centerpiece is an art nouveau-style greenhouse, made of metal and glass, with three towers that overlook the city. Considered one of the most impressive botanical gardens in Latin America, the Curitiba Botanical Garden is home to rare plants and flowers, manicured hedges, statues and fountains, leaving visitors with plenty to explore and take in. These peaceful grounds serve as a retreat from the busy metropolis of Curitiba for locals and tourists alike.
The site is also a renowned research center and home to the Botanic Museum, which serves as a reference for categorizing Brazil’s native plants and welcomes scientists from around the world.