How much does it cost to go to the World Cup?

I know that I don’t give a lot of practical advice on this blog. Instead, I tend to blather on in a bit of a ‘oh yeah, I did this, you should do it too if you tend to like similar things to me’. But I’ve been getting a lot of questions of late, ever since I announced that I was going to Brazil for the World Cup.

‘Oooh, but won’t it be expensive?’

‘Wow, how did you get those match tickets?’

Or there’s always the very direct Dutch question of ‘how much did it cost?’

So I figured that a bit of an informative, number-y post was in order. In fact, I kept a pretty good tally of what the whole trip to Brazil cost me, which is the first time I’ve ever done such a thing. And you know what? It wasn’t nearly as expensive as I’d budgeted.

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Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, pretty much all to ourselves.

I can’t tell you exactly how much it would cost you to go to the World Cup. All I can do is indicate how much it cost me, as somebody who was away for ten days, visited three cities, stayed in three hotels and a hostel and ate in mainly moderate- or low-priced restaurants. The costs are for one person, based on twin-share.

Match tickets: €132 for two matches

We received confirmation that we were successful in getting tickets to both Australia vs Holland and Holland vs Chile in February this year, four months before the tournament kicked off. Before we found out that we’d actually gotten tickets, we hadn’t booked anything. Paul has been to two other World Cups and four European Championships, so I followed his lead and sat tight. The tickets we obtained were US$90 and Category 3, the cheapest available for non-Brazilians. We were in the third row behind the goal for both matches; obviously not prime position but right in the thick of it.

So how did we get the tickets? We applied through the Dutch National Football Association (KNVB), of which Paul has been a member for twelve years. For tournaments outside Europe, members can apply for two tickets per match (in Europe, they can only apply for tickets for themselves as demand is much higher, so much so that many still miss out). Membership is open to anyone so technically any of those incredulous Dutchies could have gotten tickets if they wanted to as well.

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All smiles at Australia vs Holland in Porto Alegre.

Flights: €1,366 for seven flights

As soon as we’d found out that we had gotten match tickets, we booked our flights to Brazil that very night. Direct flights with KLM from Amsterdam to either Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo were ridiculously priced (we’re talking around €1,600) and open-jaw tickets (flying into one city and out of another) were even pricier. So we got a bit crafty on good old Skyscanner and found flights to Porto Alegre (where we needed to head for Australia vs Holland) via Lisbon for €975 with TAP. We booked them before we started second-guessing ourselves, knowing that thousands of others were looking at similar flights at the same time.

We knew that we had to fly back to Porto Alegre from Sao Paulo (our second playing city) in order to fly home, so we booked a flight with TAM a couple of weeks later for €66 each. Nice, right? Well, we got a bit complacent then, thinking that domestic flights were such a good deal in Brazil and really should have moved earlier. We decided on our itinerary in March (Porto Alegre-Rio-Sao Paulo) and booked our flight to Rio for a few hours after the match for €130 with Avianca.

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The craziest crowds I’ve ever seen in my life at Christ the Redeemer.

Unfortunately, we were a bit hopeless and only booked our last remaining flight (Rio-Sao Paulo) in early May, with the short hop costing €195 with Avianca. We had been faffing, thinking we could catch the bus between the two cities before deciding that this was a silly idea for a ten-day trip. So do as I say and not as I do, and book your internal flights as soon as you know your itinerary.

Accommodation: €838 for seven nights in hotels and three nights in a hostel

After flights, this is the biggest killer in terms of booking a trip during a festival or event, rather than what is usually the low season (as was the case for us in Brazil). FIFA – wrongly or rightly – buy up thousands of hotel rooms in playing cities during the World Cup and then sell them on to the public, meaning that they essentially control the market. It’s frustrating, and can be a good or bad thing for the humble visitor.

It was good for us in Porto Alegre, a city without too many hotel rooms; here we paid €108 each for two nights at a basic but clean hotel a five-minute walk from the city’s cathedral. It wasn’t so good for us in Rio, however, the city where many teams and most of the international media based themselves; here we paid a whopping €557 each for four nights at a quite decent three-star hotel in the laid-back little neighbourhood of Flamengo. Yep, that was a tough pill to swallow but after tons of research, it really was the best option for us.

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The Metropolitan Cathedral of Sao Paulo, a huge city of 20 million people.

In Sao Paulo we had the luxury to be able to do away with FIFA and we found quite a few hostels offering inflated yet reasonable rates for private rooms. (I’m done with dorms these days.) We booked a private room (with a bathroom) for three nights at the flashpacker-y Viva Hostel Design for €140 each. The hostel was only a few months old and in the hilly hipster district of Villa Madalena. Booking through their website was more than €100 cheaper than booking through one of the main hostel booking websites.

(Our first night was spent at a hotel near Amsterdam Airport as our flight left at 6am. We paid €33 each as I booked a couple of months in advance.)

Spending money: €450 (1350 Brazilian Real)

Paul and I each spent a bit under €50 a day on the ground, which covered things like meals, public transport (which we caught everywhere except to and from the airports), a few taxis, entry into a couple of sights, drinks and a few souvenirs. I’d say our budget was in the low- to mid-range. This was a bit under what I thought I was going to spend, as I wasn’t aware of how reliable and user-friendly the metro and buses were in Sao Paulo and especially Rio. Food prices were just a bit under what we’d pay in Europe and drinks were significantly less.

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In Porto Alegre we visited a restaurant where they would serve you twenty different cuts of meat, right at your table. Yes, a food coma followed.

Once in Brazil, I never really felt like prices had been inflated due to the World Cup. We hardly came across any English menus, taxis were metered and Brazilian football paraphernalia seemed to be available for every budget.

Other: €32

I spent €32 on my Brazilian visa, which was the rate set for Australian passport-holders. Paul didn’t need a visa with his Dutch passport. Visa fees were actually waived for those who had match tickets, but we were picking up our tickets in Brazil and the consulate wouldn’t accept solely my email confirmation letter. Catch-22, yes indeed. I also have yearly travel insurance so I haven’t added that to the total.

Total: €2,818

All of this amounts to a little under three grand for a ten-day trip. Excessive and extravagant? Perhaps. However, I don’t tend to think so. I love combining sport and travel – two of my great loves – and have shared in some experiences that will stay with me forever. Some spend their savings on a car or a big TV. I spend mine on this.

The main thing I want to point out here is that it is possible to go to the World Cup independently and not spend a fortune. If you love the World Cup and dream of attending one day, think about it this way. It is held every four years, which means you have over 200 weeks to save until the next one. Putting aside €15 per week (about AU$20) will get you that three grand. So get saving!

Each Sunday I’ve been connecting with some other travel blogs through #SundayTraveler. Click the below link for some other great stories through chasingthedonkey.com.

sunday traveler small white How much does it cost to go to the World Cup?

25 Responses to How much does it cost to go to the World Cup?

  1. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas June 29, 2014 at 8:58 AM #

    The matches are far cheaper than I expected…great breakdown!
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted..Elephant Riding in Rajasthan: Good Idea, Bad Idea?My Profile

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:15 PM #

      Thanks! A lot of people keep saying that, I think there’s an idea out there that they are incredibly expensive but that doesn’t have to be the case.

  2. Sammi Wanderlustin' June 29, 2014 at 10:20 AM #

    I don’t think that’s expensive at all, look at all you’ve done! Travelled to the other side of the world attended not one, but two footie matches, visited 3 cities! Not bad, not bad at all, I’d say!
    Sammi Wanderlustin’ recently posted..This Time Next Week….My Profile

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:16 PM #

      I reckon it’s a great deal… this week they were offering five thousand dollar packages to go to one match and stay two nights!

  3. Ace CB @ Life in Dutch June 29, 2014 at 11:33 AM #

    Thanks for sharing this – for the distance you went and the things you saw, it doesn’t over the top extravagant to me. And what an awesome opportunity!
    Ace CB @ Life in Dutch recently posted..#SundayTraveler: Scenic Prince Edward Island – Our First TripMy Profile

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:17 PM #

      You’re right, I’m not going to forget it anytime soon!

  4. Corinne June 29, 2014 at 4:01 PM #

    Caitlyn, This is an informative post. I’m not into the World Cup, but I do want to go to Brazil sometime rather soon. Did you feel safe the whole time?
    Corinne recently posted..Weekend Travel Inspiration – Develop a SympathyMy Profile

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:17 PM #

      I felt quite safe, but we took a lot of precautions. I left my camera at home, dressed down and did a lot of research on neighbourhoods etc beforehand.

  5. Dave Cole June 29, 2014 at 4:22 PM #

    Worth every penny/centime! Especially with the way the Dutch team has been playing so far. Plus, you were able to enjoy a churrascaria – I used to live in Portugal and it was always a treat to have those guys come around with the skewers.
    Dave Cole recently posted..Wonders of Ethiopia Cultural ExhibitionMy Profile

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:18 PM #

      I didn’t know that they were in Portugal too, that’s great!

  6. Marissa | It's the Little Things June 29, 2014 at 5:00 PM #

    Sounds like it was completely worth it for how much you got to do in Brazil! Looks like you had tons of fun!
    Marissa | It’s the Little Things recently posted..Until Next Time, ZambiaMy Profile

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:19 PM #

      Absolutely! I think it’s impossible not to have fun in Brazil :)

  7. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey June 29, 2014 at 9:48 PM #

    Excessive and extravagant? NO WAY! I am so shocked that is cost so little. I have thought the flights alone would be much more. Money can’t buy 10 days of what you love and to be at such a cool place at such an event! Thanks again for linking up with us to #SundayTraveler again.
    SJ @ Chasing the Donkey recently posted..The jaw-dropping Blaca hermitage, Bol CroatiaMy Profile

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:19 PM #

      I tend to be getting that reaction SJ!

  8. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer June 30, 2014 at 5:08 AM #

    I definitely want to make it to a big sporting event like the World Cup or the Olympics :)
    Chanel | Cultural Xplorer recently posted..Shooting the Bean: A Photo EssayMy Profile

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:19 PM #

      I can definitely recommend the Olympics too!

  9. Anda June 30, 2014 at 5:57 AM #

    Thanks for the informative post. I thought it would be much more, but it seems very reasonable.
    Anda recently posted..Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – a Cultural ExperienceMy Profile

  10. Nancie Lee July 1, 2014 at 1:59 AM #

    I love taking trips that have such a memorable affect. The World Cup! Churrascarias are awesome! Food, food, FOOD! haha Great job explaining how you worked it all out. Very helpful! Thanks!!

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:25 PM #

      No worries Nancie! Glad you enjoyed it.

  11. Amev July 1, 2014 at 3:35 AM #

    As a non-soccer-slash-’football’-fan, the thing I took note of was the 20 different cuts of meat at one table!?! I’m salivating right now.

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:23 PM #

      Not one for Meatless Mondays!

  12. Adelina | PackMeTo July 2, 2014 at 10:52 PM #

    Sounds like it was worth it. I know people would could easily blow 3000 euros in a weekend in Vegas. Time and money well spent in my books.
    Adelina | PackMeTo recently posted..25 Things You Didn’t Know About CanadaMy Profile

    • Caitlyn July 7, 2014 at 10:22 PM #

      Ugh, I have no idea how people can do that!

  13. Michael July 9, 2014 at 2:52 AM #

    Nice breakdown; thanks for sharing it.

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