You've got a week, and you want to see Brazil? Your first step should be to talk your boss into giving you another week, preferably two. Failing that, the route below gives a quick taste of three of Brazil's highlights: Rio de Janeiro, the historic city of Salvador, and the natural wonder of Iguaçu Falls. It'll be a busy week, though. Those who like a more laid-back pace should skip either Salvador or Iguaçu.
Days 1-3: Rio de Janeiro
To get into the Brazilian spirit, start off your trip in Rio de Janeiro. After getting settled in your hotel, head for the beach. Enjoy the scene, tan a bit (but don't overdo it). Watch the sunset from Arpoador. You'll be tired from the flight, so take it easy with a good dinner in one of the top restaurants of Ipanema or Leblon. On day 2 get out and see the mountains. Take a tram up to the Corcovado, or take a jeep tour up through Tijuca Forest. Stop by Cinelândia in Rio's Centro in the afternoon. That night, discover the late-night Carioca lifestyle. Have dinner around 11pm, then catch some samba, played live in Lapa. You'll be sleeping late the next day, so spend some more time at the beach, or take a trolley up to explore the hillside neighborhood of Santa Teresa. All this should acclimatize you to the Brazilian way before you set off to explore the rest of the country.
Days 4 & 5: Salvador
Early on day 4, catch a flight for Salvador. This is the city where the country's African roots are strongest. Stay in one of the lovely pousadas in Pelourinho like the Pousada do Pilar, or pamper yourself with a stay in the restored 17th-century Convento do Carmo. Wander through Pelourinho's 17th-century streets. In the evening, try some Bahian cuisine, then go out and enjoy the music in Pelourinho after dark. Next day, take the boat tour of the Bay of All Saints, or head out to the church of Bonfim, or tour the lovely Museu de Arte Sacra. Or if you're the Energizer Bunny, do all three.
Days 6 & 7: Iguaçu Falls
A final must-see -- one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders of the world -- Iguaçu Falls. The early flight from Salvador should get you to Iguaçu before 2pm. Store your stuff and go see the falls. Today stick to the Brazilian side. Don't forget to take the Macuco boat safari. Unforgettable.
Your next step the next day depends on flights. There are afternoon flights from Iguaçu that will get you to São Paulo in time to connect with your evening flight back to North America. Theoretically, you could get up early (again) and make the trip to the Argentine side and make it back in time for that 4pm flight. Or you could do the sensible thing and stay another night in Iguaçu. Get up a little later, and go explore the Argentine side at a leisurely pace. That night, have dinner somewhere in downtown Foz do Iguaçu.
Next morning, you can catch an early flight to São Paulo and spend the day exploring, or you can dawdle by the hotel pool in Iguaçu (or go see the Bird Park), before catching a later flight to São Paulo and connecting to your evening flight home.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.