10 Tips for Doing the Rio Olympics on a Budget

ROAD TO RIO

Rio de Janeiro is South America's most visited city, with upward of 2 million international tourists a year. Add in the Summer Olympics and tourism is sure to explode in 2016. Vacation rental bookings for non-hotel lodgings during the 2014 World Cup <a href="http://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalsBlog/2015/07/27/olympic-opportunity-rio-homeowners-travelers-seeing-gold/">jumped 183 percent</a> compared with the prior year, according to TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, and demand during the Olympics is expected to match or beat that. Still, fans heading south for the quadrennial "sportstacular" have several things going for them. The Brazilian real is a fast-falling currency, with 1 real currently equal to about 25 cents. And it's too early to tell how the Zika virus will affect Olympic pricing and crowds, but concern seems likely to suppress demand. Here are 10 other ways fans can save on a trip to the Rio Summer Olympics.

COMPARE AIRPORTS

There are plenty of flights going in and out of Rio. Most flights coming from the United States go through Atlanta, Houston, Miami, or New York. The primary international airport is Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, more commonly known as Galeão. The smaller Santos Dumont Airport is located downtown. Tickets to one or the other may be cheaper, depending on the flight, so research both thoroughly.

LOOK BEYOND A HOTEL

A vacation rental in a furnished house, apartment, or condo can be cheaper than one of Rio's in-demand hotels. The average nightly rate for a 3- to 4-star hotel during the 2014 World Cup was $445, according to TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals, bringing the total for a weeklong trip (six nights) to a whopping $2,670. The current rate for a two-bedroom, one-week vacation rental in Rio this August is $1,774.

TRY AIRBNB

Rio Olympic organizers signed a deal with Airbnb to be the Olympics' official provider of alternative lodging. The short-term rental listing site expects about 20,000 properties to be available at rates deemed "affordable," including many located near Olympic venues.

USE OFFICIAL TICKETING WEBSITES

<a href="https://www.cosport.com">CoSport</a> is the official site for tickets to Olympic events. To avoid paying a premium for what may turn out to be fake tickets, visit the site for the real thing. CoSport also offers ticket and hotel packages based on the events fans want to attend. Prices for these packages aren't cheap, but it's an option for visitors willing to pay for essentially a guarantee that the tickets are scam-free.

WATCH ON A BIG SCREEN

Anyone who winds up in Rio without tickets to all the events on their bucket list can join the locals and watch the games at Madureira Park in the city's north. The park will have a giant screen for public viewing of the events. There also will be giant screens at the seafront in the port area and at the Miécimo da Silva Sports Complex.

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HIT THE BEACH

Spending time enjoying <a href="http://www.cheapism.com/blog/4132/cheap-and-free-things-to-do-in-rio-and-brazil">free and cheap activities in Rio</a> can assuage some guilt over the cost of attending Olympic events. Rio beaches undoubtedly will be even more packed than usual, but a free day at the beach can't be beat. Ipanema, of the famous bossa nova song "Girl from Ipanema," has been a popular tourist destination for decades. It's a scene in all respects: sports, parties, cookouts, and more.

BARGAIN FOR SOUVENIRS

Not everything in Rio this summer will be going for Olympic-size prices. Be sure to check out one of the city's many markets. The Feira Hippie de Ipanema, a Sunday street market in General Osório Square in Ipanema, offers a wide assortment of bargain shopping. <a href="http://www.cheapism.com/blog/3687/how-to-haggle">Haggling</a> over prices has its rewards.

TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Rio is known for crazy rush-hour traffic that will surely be worse during the Olympics. Message: Don't rent a car. The rapid transit bus system, <a href="http://brtrio.com">BRT</a>, connects downtown Rio with the airports. Starting in April, a new light-rail system, the VLT, will begin service and should improve carless transportation during the games.

READ UP ON VISA LAWS AND TRAVEL DATES

Brazil usually requires a visa before tourists can enter the country. Between June 1 and Sept. 18, American visitors will not be required to present a visa but can stay a maximum of 90 days within that period. Anyone planning extended travel or visiting outside the qualifying dates should <a href="http://saofrancisco.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us/visas.xml">read up on the rules</a> before booking travel.

TAKE ZIKA SERIOUSLY

No matter how upscale or frugal your travel plans, carefully research and follow the latest news on the Zika virus. The World Health Organization recently declared a public health emergency and advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas, including Rio.