It’s time once again for gravity-defying tumbling routines, heart-pounding swimming match-ups, and photo-finish track events. The summer Olympics are upon us, this time in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And while we’ve all seen our share of the horror stories leading up to the summer games, it’s still one of the best times to watch literal world-class athletes duke it out on an international stage.
Whether you’re hoping to catch Michael Phelps in his last Olympic events, or watching the continued rise of gymnastics phenom Simone Biles, you might be hoping to make a last-minute attempt to attend the 2016 Rio Olympics, starting on August 5 and finishing with the closing ceremony August 21. While tickets to Rio and the events themselves are still available, it won’t be a cheap trip, despite the concerns about public health and safety.
The number of Americans venturing to Rio for the games has almost halved from the 200,000 people originally estimated to go, with many citing the spreading Zika virus as a main concern. However, if you do decide to go to the games, you’ll still be in the company of about 500,000 tourists flooding into the Brazilian city to watch the Olympics. Here’s how much you can expect to spend on the trip.
Depending on how many high-profile events you plan to attend while you’re at the Olympics, a last-minute flight to and from Rio is likely your biggest expense. A report from Go Banking Rates published July 25 found flights on Orbitz leaving from Los Angeles on August 3 and returning August 10 to be $1,200 on the low end (with a layover or two), and nonstop flights upwards of $5,700 per person. Just a few days later, those prices for the same timeframe have spiked to $1,593 (with stops) on Orbitz, with sky-high prices reaching the $6,000-$7,500 range.
Compared to a typical trip to Rio, even the lower end of those flights equals a 100% markup or more. Flights in mid-October, for example, will cost about $600 per person.
2. Hotel rooms
According to Forbes, Hotels.com reports a 234% increase in searches for accommodations in Rio compared to last year. Not surprisingly, you can expect a huge spike in hotel room costs over the Olympics compared with most other times of year. (Similar spikes happen with hotels and even Airbnb rentals all the time, as we witnessed with Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.)
Go Banking Rates reports that room costs will range from $20 per night to around $4,000. The average, according to the publication, will be about $500 per night. Forbes reports you might be able to find mid-range lodging options for $272 per night, with more upscale options costing about $641 per night.
3. Event tickets
Sure, you could watch the events on several big screens set up all around Rio, but if you’re going through all the effort to make it there, we certainly hope you’ll have a little money left in your travel budget to actually see some live events. According to the official games site, there are more than 7.5 million tickets for a range of prices from $20 to more than $1,400.
Americans wishing to attend the events have been encouraged to purchase official tickets through CoSport, the authorized reseller for the games. However, Forbes reports that people of all nationalities are now also allowed to purchase tickets directly through the main Rio site, which until recently was reserved for Brazilians. Currency exchange rates could yield a better deal on that site, though you might need to wade through some Portuguese translations to do so.
The price of more than half the events is $20 or less, according to the official site. However, keep in mind that crowd-drawing events will be much higher. Tickets are scarce now for the opening ceremony, with passes on CoSport priced at $2,008 per person, and those on the main site up to $1,407 for premium seats.
Non-medal rounds of popular sports like swimming, gymnastics, track, and volleyball are considerably less, while medal rounds are obviously the money-makers. Final-round tickets for beach volleyball and track events are some of the highest, with the best tickets for medal rounds costing around $367. (Earlier rounds are about $107 on the main Olympics site). Other popular events will cost around $275 for medal rounds. In the case of gymnastics finals, where most tickets are already sold out, the rare tickets available on CoSport will cost $1,039 per person.
So, if you splurge on the opening ceremony or a high-profile gymnastics event, and attend other smaller events like fencing or archery, you might be able to keep your costs in the $1,500 range. If you go all out, the event tickets could be the most expensive part of the trip.
4. Transportation, souvenirs, and more
How much you choose to spend after making it to the main events and having a place to sleep can vary, but count on at least another few hundred dollars for transportation, food, tips, and other costs along the way. Forbes suggests carrying no more than $30 (or 100 Real, the Brazilian currency) at a time to be less vulnerable to pickpocketing, and also recommends pre-paid credit cards that aren’t linked to your regular accounts, since ATM skimmers can be an issue.
All in all, you can travel to Rio for the Olympics for about $6,000 a person. You might be able to find deals, or you could spend far, far more and make it the trip to beat all trips. Or, you could join most of America in front of a TV to watch the photo finishes from your living room.