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How Much Does it Cost to Book a Rio Olympics Trip Right Now?

Earlier this week, the folks at NPR’s Here and Now asked us an intriguing question: How much would it cost to book a trip to the Rio Olympics right now? The answer, it turns out, may be a lot less than you might expect.

Rio in Preparation for the Games

As Rio prepares to welcome more than a million people this coming August and host the Olympic Games in 32 venues around the city (five other cities will co-host soccer matches), it’s facing its share of challenges. Brazil’s president is facing impeachment hearings, and the country is in a major recession.  Rio’s new subway line and some of the city’s 75 new hotels are behind schedule, but still set to open before the Games. And Zika is presenting a health challenge for locals, athletes, and visitors.

But in true the-show-must-go-on fashion, Rio is making it happen. The city’s hotels are nearly fully booked for the Games and cancellations have been rare. The World Health Organization is working with Brazil and the Rio Olympic Committee on a “targeted approach” to reduce Zika infections ahead of the Games, which will take place in Brazil’s winter, when mosquito populations will already be at their lowest.

A Rio Olympics Price Breakdown

Flights: We enlisted the help of the folks at to get a broad sense of airfares during the Games. From the U.S., the average fare to Rio is just under $1,200, with a low of $859 and a high of $1,933. From the West Coast, the best deals are coming from LA on Korean Air and are hovering in the $859 to $869 range. From New York City, the best deals are on Copa, with low fares of $988 for flights toward the end of the Games.

Accommodations: The average cost of a hotel room in Rio before and after the Games is under $250 a night, but during the Games that price has, in many cases, tripled. Pair those high nightly rates with very little remaining availability and you might assume you’re priced out of Rio. But that’s where Airbnb comes in. The company is the “official alternative accommodations sponsor of the Games,” with a goal of offering affordable in-home options to almost 400,000 travelers.. When I looked earlier this week, I found rates ranging from $40 per night for a “hotel in disrepair” to $175 per night for a private room in a centrally located apartment.

Tickets: What you see online right now is not a complete snapshot of available tickets. Here’s why: The Olympic Committee releases allocations of tickets to the U.S. ticket seller CoSport at seemingly random intervals. CoSport posts any new tickets to its website, and if the allocation is significant enough, also sends out email alerts to anyone who has signed up. Prices vary, but aren’t necessarily as astronomical as you might expect. Out of a total of 7.5 million tickets available worldwide, about 3.8 million of them cost less than $30. When I looked, I found tickets for five days of events for $724 ($112 for a basketball game, $51 for equestrian eventing, $306 for a soccer match, $143 for volleyball, and a water polo game ticket for $112).

The Final Tally

Using the average airfare of $1,200, a super-bare-bones hotel at $40 per night for five nights, and $724 for five days of Olympics events, it brings the total to $2,125—significantly less than I would have guessed. That of course doesn’t include transportation in Rio, food, and Olympics souvenirs, but it’s a solid start at a good price.

Is an Olympics trip on your bucket list?

More from SmarterTravel:

Christine Sarkis has Olympic fever. Follow her on Twitter @ChristineSarkis and Instagram @postcartography for more advice about making every vacation the best vacation.

(Photo credit: RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL via Shutterstock)

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