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How You Can Afford a Trip to Rio This Summer

This blog post was updated on August 4, 2021.

The world will be watching as Rio de Janeiro, hosts the 2016 Olympics next month. Of course, there are travelers who started planning their trips as early as last year. If you’re not one of them, don’t worry. There’s still a way to travel to Brazil’s most famous city during the Olympics on the cheap. Here are some things to consider as you plan your trip.

Be Strategic About Booking Flights


Finding flights to Rio shouldn’t be a huge challenge, since many US carriers offer flights there multiple times a day. Take some time to search for the best fare, keeping in mind that the most expensive days to travel will be right before the opening ceremony (you can always watch that on TV anyways) and right after the closing ceremony. You’ll have a better chance of securing affordable flights if you fly to Brazil while the games are happening and wait a few days after they have ended before you fly home (having more time to hang out on the beach isn’t a bad thing!).

Don’t Worry About a Visa


Typically, American visitors need a travel visa to enter Brazil, which can cost upwards of $160. During the Olympic Games however, citizens of certain countries (including the US) are not required to obtain a visa before traveling to Rio. So, save yourself time and money by skipping this unnecessary step if you plan on traveling from the US to Rio anytime from June 1 to September 18, 2016.

RELATED: If you’re traveling from the US this summer you can expect long security check lines at airports. Read this article on how you can keep cool and get through them without breaking a sweat!

Score Last-Minute Event Tickets


If you’re looking to attend an Olympic event, you’ll have to set up an account on the official ticketing site, CoSport. Although the most desirable tickets were snatched up months ago, there are still some available for sports like golf, handball, and taekwondo. It’s important to keep in mind that the inventory for most events will continue to shift as we get closer to the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics. You don’t have to stalk the website to stay up-to-date on which tickets are available. Simply sign up for CoSport’s email alert system to be notified when additional tickets go on sale.

Eat at Local Churrascarias and Botecos


Even though prices will be elevated in areas near the Olympic games, keep in mind that the exchange rate is still in American traveler’s favor. You can get even more bang for your Real (the Brazilian currency) by opting for local churrascarias and botecos rather than restaurants that cater specifically to tourists. Churrascarias are Brazilian steakhouses that serve fixed price meals consisting of generous meat portions and a variety of sides. Keep in mind that lunch prices at churrascarias are lower than dinner prices (for essentially the same thing). Botecos are essentially bars/casual restaurants that serve inexpensive fare. This can be a great option for a light meal and a drink (try a refreshing caipirinha, the national cocktail).

Safety Note

It’s important for potential visitors to Rio to know that there is currently a travel warning in Brazil due to the Zika virus (which is especially dangerous for pregnant women). Since it’s hard to know what the Zika threat level will be like in August, travelers should monitor the risk level before leaving for Rio.

Have you been to the Olympics or Rio before and have some recommendations on how to attend this summer’s games without breaking the bank? Let us know in the comments section below!

About the author

Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

An insatiable foodie, art collector, and international literature aficionado, I have traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Canada. For the past fifteen years, I have written about my adventures for various travel and literary publications. I am the owner of Lucidité Writing ( and Bouchard Design Co. (

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