Visa-Free Travel Ends After Rio Summer Olympics

The exotic images surrounding the Rio Olympics are spellbinding. You can surely see yourself taking a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain, enjoying the views of Guanabara Bay, or going for a dip at Ipanema Beach. On top of the normal tourist attractions, this August, you could see a basketball game or women's soccer match. Perhaps a sailing race is more your style. Rio seems enchanting, perhaps now more than ever. Thinking of heading down to catch part of the games? You might find yourself wondering, how long do the Summer Olympics 2016 last?

As luck would have it, you've still got some time. The Olympics haven't even started yet. The opening ceremony isn't until Aug. 5, and the closing ceremony will occur on Aug. 21. So if you're even contemplating heading down, there's still time to plan your trip. Plus there's one big perk for any American travelers considering a visit — either during the games or until Sep. 18. That's because if you enter Brazil between now and that date, you won't be required to get a visa. The same is true for Canadians, Australians, and Japanese citizens.

Condé Nast Traveler reported that the move can save travelers as much as $160 — the visa application cost — plus a trip to the nearest consulate, in itself a large expense if you don't live near one. Normally you need to show up in person with an application, round-trip plane tickets, and an extra passport photo. You can benefit until Sep. 18, when the Paralympic Games, also in Rio, end. That means you could schedule an early fall getaway, catch the end of the Olympics, part of the Paralympics, and tack on some in-country travel after. You're allowed to stay for 90 days.

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Zika has been well publicized as a reason not to go, but if you're not thinking of having kids soon, bug spray is a one preventative measure you can take. Plus, the World Health Organization said there was "no public health justification" for cancelling or moving the games. It won't have a large impact on the international spread of the virus, so just do your best to protect yourself.

And you'll be able to buy plenty of bug spray when you get there. The Brazilian real has risen somewhat against the dollar, but it's still far down from its peak in 2011. Currently you get more than R$3 for every $1 you trade in. That will be great, especially when you start ordering caipirinhas on the beach or head to one of the city's six newly-named Michelin star restaurants.

All in all, there couldn't be a more exciting time to fly to South America and take in the sights of its most raucous city, Rio de Janeiro. With the Olympic improvements, you'll even be able to take the metro to the newest tourist attraction — if the newest stations open on time, that is.