Top Tips: How to Attend a FIFA Football World Cup

Netherlands v Denmark, World Cup 2010

I’ll get it out of the way now, I travel a fair amount for football! When people find out I’ve been to three football FIFA World Cups, I get asked two questions: how much does it cost to go and how did I do it? So here is my article on how to attend a World Cup.

Well, I’m Scottish. The last World Cup our national team made it to was in 1998 and I’ve been to three since. I’ve been to more World Cups in my life than the Scottish national team has in the same time… So obviously, I’m not too bothered who I watch when I get there!

What is the process? How much did my trip in 2010 cost? Considerably more than my competition winning Brazil 2014 visit! I also visited Russia in 2018 through a cheap Avios redemption.

How did I book my trip to the South African World Cup in 2010?

Find a Base City

The World Cup is the biggest football event in the world and only happens every four years so it’s vital that you start planning early. I was fortunate that I had family staying in Johannesburg, South Africa so I could get ahead of the game and plan early. It depends where the tournament is and how big the country is but try and pick a base to stay in. My obvious choice was Johannesburg. I had a look at the number of stadiums nearby and I worked out that, as a base, I could get to three different stadiums easily which helped in the ticketing process.

Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg

Soccer City Stadium, Johannesburg

Choose Dates

Are you staying for the whole tournament or like most of us, do you only have a certain amount of days you can go for? The tickets are cheaper at the start of the tournament so if cost is a factor it’s a good thing to take in to consideration. Do you want to see the showcase final? (It’s on my bucket list!) If so, visit for the last week or so but flight prices may be higher. Check the FIFA website to look for dates of games that you could potentially go and see, those that are close to your base city.

Booking Flights

If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance then ignore this one! If you’re not that guy then book flights as soon as practically possible! The cost of flights from major countries to the World Cup country during the month ramps up drastically. Use SkyScanner or a similar website to try and find the best time to visit taking in to account the games you want to see.

Finding Accommodation

When you have your dates sorted, the next thing to look at is accommodation. This will probably be the most expensive aspect of your trip after flights. FIFA run a scheme where residents in host cities can offer up their apartments to FIFA who will then in turn, rent them out to their delegates. This means that the price of staying in a host city can be very expensive during a World Cup month. This may take some time but check the usual comparison websites along with Airbnb to find a suitable place to stay. It’s always best to book early to avoid paying through the roof.

Applying for World Cup Tickets

The tickets are a tricky aspect of the trip. FIFA usually allow you to apply for tickets around one year before the tournament is due to start. Now this is generally a blind ballot where you select a certain number of games that you would be happy to pay for. At this stage you don’t know who is playing and if you’re successful then you have to pay for them. This is complete luck of the draw and you could end up with anything! There are stages after the draw is done where you can apply for tickets knowing what the games are but these ballots are much more competitive before the first come, first served dregs come up for sale.

Spain v Honduras

Eventual winners Spain line up to take on Honduras (2-0)

Prices of World Cup Tickets

The cheapest tickets are category 4 tickets which are generally further away from the pitch. However, these are usually reserved for local people in the host country so that residents can have a chance to attend. The most expensive tickets are category 1 which are the prime seats. That’s if you’re not attending in a hospitality suite! The ticket prices change at each tournament and it gets more expensive as the tournament goes on. Tickets for South Africa were around $80 for a group stage game in category 3 and $120 each for category 2.

Would I Recommend Attending?

Yes! The World Cup is a great tournament to attend. The atmosphere around each game is jovial and fun with people of different cultures mixing and enjoying each others company. I’ve been to two and I’ll certainly be at more! I’ll be posting about my actual visit to the South African World Cup shortly.

World Cup Games I Attended

Netherlands v Denmark – Soccer City Stadium, Category 3 tickets
New Zealand v Slovakia – Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Category 3 tickets
Argentina v Korea Republic – Soccer City Stadium, Category 2 tickets
Brazil v Côte d’Ivoire – Soccer City Stadium, Category 2 tickets
Spain v Honduras – Ellis Park Stadium, Category 3 tickets

My 2010 South Africa World Cup Costs

Flights: £1,098.20
Accomodation: £600
Car Hire: £225
Tickets: £311.61
Total: £2,234.81

If you are planning on going to a World Cup and have questions, I’m more than happy to help out. Hopefully this has helped you with tips on how to attend a World Cup.

Top Tips: How to Attend a World Cup

Pin Me to Pinterest!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. July 2, 2017 / 9:53 am

    Wow! That is a lot of money to attend a major sporting event! CAnt believe you paid all that. :O

    • David
      July 3, 2017 / 3:01 pm

      It is a lot but usually these types of events are a once in a lifetime opportunity! I’ve been to another since (in Brazil) and will probably go to Russia too though!

  2. Brooke
    December 18, 2017 / 7:44 am

    I definitely have a goal of making it to a country that hosts the World Cup in my lifetime-I wanted to go when it was in Germany and I lived in Italy at that time but I had no idea how the tickets worked and I was a poor young student then so that didn’t happen. Now, I think I”d be just as happy IN the city watching the matches from pubs with other locals than I would at the matches themselves but either way I Love watching soccer matches!

    • David
      December 19, 2017 / 9:07 pm

      The atmosphere around the city usually is enough. The atmosphere is superb! I would’ve loved to visit Germany in 2006, it’s such an amazing country

  3. Followingtherivera
    December 18, 2017 / 3:15 pm

    I’ll be honest; I’m no football fan! However, I wouldn’t mind seeing a game or two at the world cup as I’m sure the energy’s insane! You give some great tips too, especially for football fans!

  4. December 18, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    Funny enough I was just asking my friend how to get a ticket to a FIFA. I cant believe how hard it is to get them but also it makes sense as I bet theres a many many people dreaming about. I am not a massive football fan but now when my country ( Poland) doing pretty well it would be exciting to see them play live on World Cup! I think its too late for me now to register so I guess I have keep my fingers cross for them to play in two years in Euro Cup

    • David
      December 19, 2017 / 9:08 pm

      I think tickets for World Cup 2018 are still available if you check out the official Fifa website, you might get lucky!

  5. December 20, 2017 / 3:02 pm

    The only sport that I can enjoy following is football and I eagerly wait for the FIFA each time, staying up at odd hours to watch all the matches and charging up with all the excitement. At home, of course. 🙂

  6. December 21, 2017 / 2:34 pm

    I’m no world cup fan, but this post is really interesting.. Such a cool overview on the preparation that one needs to be able to watch the Fifa World Cup especially on buying tickets. I did’t know that buying tickets should be a year before the tournament.. Thank you for this!

  7. December 24, 2017 / 1:40 am

    We’re not exactly fans of football as it’s rarely played here in the Philippines. However, it would be totally fun to cheer along with the spectators! The screaming and energy would be contagious!

  8. December 24, 2017 / 11:09 am

    I’m not the biggest football fan, but I do agree that this is probably a one in a lifetime experience! I wouldn’t mind going to a World Cup match at least once, the vibe must be incredible!
    I also try to organise my trips around big events (concerts, festivals…) and even though those dates tend to be a bit more expensive, it’s always worth it!

  9. December 26, 2017 / 7:49 am

    Wow, there is a fair bit of planning for this one. Did not realize that for I have never really thought so much about attending one of these in a stadium – including badminton and cricket which I at least follow. I guess for true fans its all worth it!