Scored yourself an early-bird ticket to the most fantabulous party of the year? Lucky you! Read on for a guide to the Olympics in Brazil, includes schedule, travel tips and more!
The Brazil Olympics are set to light Brazil on fire this year, a country that’s still basking in the limelight spearheaded by the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Much as with the yearly Carnival, Rio is set to explode in a party frenzy of dance, music, fireworks and general shenanigans, making it an event destination like no other. Our guide to travel during the 2016 Rio Games will help you navigate your way through the mayhem!
Guide to the Olympics in Brazil
A visit to Brazil during the Rio Olympics is the only holiday you’ll want this year. Not only are there countless side trips you could take from Rio de Janeiro and other Olympic event cities, but you can also enjoy an unforgettable longer jaunt through this magnificent country, having Rio as your final destination. Need yet another reason to visit Brazil this year? The Real has taken a bit of a tumble as of late. Whilst the Australian Dollar only bought you 2 BR during the 2014 World Cup, it can now bag you 2.7. Your party just got 25% cheaper. Chi-ching!
The added bonus of a visa-free visit to Brazil for Australians is the wonderful cherry on top of an already delectable cake.
Brazil Olympic Games Schedule
Over 10,000 athletes will compete in the Brazil Games, an event that’s set to transfix the whole world for 17 fantastic sport-filled days. The great majority of events will take place in Rio, with football matches scheduled to also kick off in Manaus, Salvador, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia. A whirlwind football-mania trip can indeed include some of the best highlights of Brazil.
The games will take place between the 5th and 21st of August, with both opening and closing ceremonies set to feature the major aspects of the colourful culture for which this country is so revered. There will be feathers. There will be flamboyant costumes. There will be drums. There will most probably be crazy acrobatics, and you can pretty much bet there’ll be much cleavage and many perky rear ends because when we claim that the Brazil 2016 Olympics has something for everyone, we really mean it.
Both opening and closing ceremonies will be held at the world-famous Maracanã Stadium, and prices for both events range from 200 to 4,600 BR.
Events Calendar – Download and print this detailed daily guide to all the sporting events before you pack your bags. Prior to purchasing your tickets, check out this handy guide to determine if the event on a specific day is a qualifier, or medal final.
Main areas & venues in Rio
Here’s an overview map of the events held in Rio:
(Courtesy of Rio2016.com)
During the 2016 Brazil Olympics, Rio will effectively be split into four main areas: Copacabana, Maracanã, Deodoro and Barra. It is in these four zones that all events will be held.
Copacabana – The picture-perfect setting for the Brazil Olympics, Copacabana is arguably the most famous address in the whole country. Blessed with a 4km-long stretch of sandy beach, sapphire waters – and framed by Corcovado Mountain and Pao de Azucar – Copacabana is as aesthetically gifted as she is vibrant. Bustling bars, trendy café, restaurants and boutiques provide plenty of entertainment, as does people watching on the expansive beach. In August, this place is set to rocket into the limelight, as it hosts a plethora of Olympic events, including the beach volleyball (a Copacabana institution), rowing, canoeing and sailing races, the triathlon, as well as cycling events on two consecutive days. If you love being in the heart of the action and wish to experience Rio at her best, we recommend you stay in Copacabana. You really couldn’t dream of a better base for your Olympic adventures.
Maracanã – Just north of Copacabana, and home to three stupendous and prominent stadiums, Maracanã is the unofficial queen of the Brazil Olympics. The Sambadrome, Maracanã and Olympic stadiums are set to collectively host the major events, like the opening and closing ceremonies, final of the men’s marathon, the athletic events, volleyball, most of the aquatic events and a the all-important football finals, as one would expect. If you want to understand a truly inherent part of Brazilian culture, then score yourself a ticket to a football match during the Brazil Olympics and bear witness to the true meaning of passion.
Deodoro – Rio’s northernmost Olympic Games zone is set for big things after the games, with plans of turning it into the largest leisure park in the city being very welcomed. But for now, Deodoro is preparing to host the canoe slalom, BMX cycling, hockey, pentathlon, basketball, mountain biking and rugby events. Set apart from the city centre, Deodoro is connected via train lines.
Barra – West of Copacabana is where you’ll find Barra, the bonafide epicentre of the Brazil Olympics action, with two arenas, the Velodrome, aquatic stadium, and spectacular seaside golf course competing for attention. In total, there are 15 venues here, as well as the Olympic Village and Press Centre. Events such as the gymnastics, aquatics, weightlifting, boxing, cycling, table tennis and badminton will be held right here.
Olympic football gold has so far eluded Brazil, the only country in history to have played in every single World Cup and taken home the beloved trophy no less than 5 times. It’s fair to say that winning football gold at home is the dream of an entire nation, and watching the host country in action the most coveted activity for all who will visit.
Some of the football matches are the only events to be held outside of Rio, giving spectators an invaluable chance to explore several other prominent cities.
Brasilia – The capital of the country has always played second fiddle to infinitely more popular Rio, yet it offers a plethora of attractions and is ideal for architectural buffs. With her futuristic skyline and abundance of world-renowned palaces, cathedrals and beautifully designed buildings, Brasilia offers a city escape like no other. Add to that a fantastic nightlife and gourmet foodie scene, and you’ve got yourself a more than rewarding destination. Football games in Brasilia will be held on the 4th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 12th and 13th of August.
Manaus – Perhaps the most ‘exciting’ football cities of all, Manaus is set along the Rio Negro River in northern Brazil and is the springboard for trips to the Amazon Rainforest. Adding a cruise of a few days down the mighty Amazon River will be a spectacular way to combine your love of football with what should be your insatiable desire to experience one of the world’s most magnificent treasures. Manaus will play host to three first-round football matches, on the 5th, 7th and 9th of August.
Belo Horizonte – The city not many people have heard about is one of the largest in the Americas, with a population of 1.5mil. Cosmopolitan and charming, Belo Horizonte does indeed boast quite a beautiful horizon, although the urban sprawl has a way of buffering the exceptionally natural surroundings. In the heart of the Minas Gerais province, and less than 500km from Rio, BH is a wonderful city in which to spend a few days. With her wide avenues flanked by designer boutiques and upmarket restaurants, this city is perhaps not the most stunning in Brazil, but its proximity to the coast and Rio, in particular, makes it an optimal side trip, especially if you wish to catch one of the football games held here during the Brazil Olympics.
Salvador – Stunning colonial architecture, a romantic cobblestone old town centre, a resplendent coastline and oodles of cultural highlights make Salvador an absolute jewel in Brazil’s crown. When the Portuguese were still here, Salvador was the capital of their claimed New World and that prominence, all those moons ago, has not worn thin. Renowned as the heart and soul of Brazilian culture and music, Salvador hosts the most authentic Carnival every year and offers, in many respects, a more organic Brazilian experience. Descendants of African slaves have held onto their heritage here, perhaps more than anywhere else in the world. It’s this mesmerizing fusion of Africa and Latin America that make Salvador so damn inviting. Colourful, vibrant, hypnotic and insanely addictive, this is where you come to taste, hear, see and dance the very best of Brazil.
Oh yes…the football! Six games will be held here in total (one every 3 days) so considering you’ll be visiting for a week (yes?) you’ll have the chance to catch some Olympics action here too.
Public event screenings in Rio
In Madueira Park, north of the city centre, is where you’ll find not only the Olympic rings but also a colossal screen where Olympic events will be broadcast to the public. This is one of Rio’s largest park and often referred to as the ‘birthplace of samba’. Screenings will also be held in Campo Grande’s Sports Centre Miecimo da Silva, and along the gentrified waterfront in Porto Maravilha.
Tickets – When it comes to buying tickets for events during the Brazil Olympics, everything is determined by whence you hail. Your country of residence will have been assigned a ticket supplier, and that supplier a predetermined number of tickets. That’s how all Olympic Games work. You can find the full list of international ticket sellers right here. If you’re in Australia, you can buy your tickets directly from CoSport. Currently, CoSport is up to its third round of tickets, so pickings are a little meagre but, lest you panic, not yet disastrous. The key here is to act fast if you hope to catch some of the most prominent events. Do note that venues are subject to change, so you must check the day before the event and reconfirm venue location. Any child under the age of 2 is allowed free entry into all events, as long as they sit on an adult’s lap.
Transport – Considering the fact Rio (and other major cities) are quite overpopulated, the public transport systems in Brazil are actually quite good. Luckily, it will also receive a much-needed boost with extra buses and trains, and construction of new underground and monorail systems being added to the mix. You can expect journeys to venues to be lengthy but not difficult. Of course, it helps if you choose to stay in the area where most of your favourite events will be held.
Safety – Read our travel safety guide to Brazil before you pack those beloved jewels in your bag.
More Online resources
- Here’s your comprehensive and printable official guide to the Brazil 2016 Olympics
2016 Brazil Olympics: the best reason to visit Brazil
It’s not every day one heads to Brazil – our incessant nagging notwithstanding – so including a few side trips before, during or after the Games makes perfect sense. Rio de Janeiro alone is worthy of at least 4-6 days, when you consider that between cheering for your country you really ought to visit the spectacular Christ the Redeemer statue, take the cable car up to Pao de Azucar and possibly scare yourself silly on a breathtaking paraglide off Corcovado Mountain. Never mind the fact that with just a few extra days up your sleeve, you could also be kayaking down the Amazon River in search of sloths, standing open-mouthed in front of imposing Iguazu Falls, chasing anacondas in the Pantanal, and working that winter tan on some of the most pristine islands in all of South America.
And may we let you in on a little secret? Even with no Olympic ticket in hand, a trip to Brazil this August is guaranteed to be simply amazing. If you were in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics, you’d know exactly what we mean. The excitement and buzz are palpable in an Olympic hosting city; everyone is happy, celebrating, winners and losers alike. Rio, one of the most exciting cities in the world, will be transformed into the most enticing holiday destination in the world. And you should definitely get front row tickets to get a taste of that.
Get there: Take a look at our most popular tours of Brazil to get a gist of all this amazing country offers.
Author: Laura Pattara
“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 13 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now in the midst of a 5-year motorbike odyssey from Germany to Australia.”