Romantic destinations in Europe and super-cheap spots in Asia tend to draw a lot of travelers. But South America is worthy of your attention, too. In fact, Peru, a western, coastal country, has plenty of tourist attractions and epic landscapes to admire.

Of course, there's also a lot to know about traveling there, getting around, and seeing the sights. Here are 11 things to know about Peru while planning your trip.

Check Out Machu Picchu, The Amazon Rainforest, & Art

Peru is known for a few key sights: Machu Picchu, the Amazon rainforest, and lots of ancient pre-Columbian art. The vistas are breathtaking practically everywhere you go, whether you're traversing the Inca Trail or snapping photos of glossy Lake Titicaca.


Want to experience a mystery? Check out the Nazca Lines, geoglyphs left by generations past (with plenty of interesting theories about their origins and meanings).

You Should Visit Peru Mid-Year

With Peru's tropical weather (there is a rainforest there, after all), it's tough to nail down a travel date that won't involve rain, humidity, or any other uncomfortable conditions. That said, Audley Travel recommends visiting between May and October. This is purported to be the dry season with sunny weather and no threat of thunderstorms. Of course, there's still snow in the Andes year-round.

Stay In Cusco For Easy Access To Machu Picchu (Or In Lima For Beaches)

Since the biggest attraction in Peru is Machu Picchu, you may consider making Cusco your home base. There are Inca artifacts all over the city, and some buildings were even built over the top of ancient stonework. You could wander around Cusco for days and not get tired of the sights. You can also hike and explore the Andes in Cusco, making it the perfect spot for adventurers. The alpacas prove photogenic, too.

That said, Lima is also popular, especially because it offers beaches and ocean tourism that Cusco can't. It's also one of the largest cities in South America, so it's always busy. If you're interested in culture, nightlife, and accessible transportation and fun, Lima's the place to be.

Lie In At Lima's Miraflores Park Hotels (Or Cusco's "Hostals")

The area of Miraflores Park in Lima offers plenty of luxury hotels with ocean views. You can't go wrong with a hotel anywhere along the coast, of course, but Miraflores is convenient and photogenic.

In contrast, bedding down in Cusco offers everything from $12-per-night hostels to elegant accommodations with free breakfast and modern amenities.

Eat Everything From Potato Casserole To Guinea Pigs

Seafood is popular in many parts of Peru, given that it's on the coast, so you can expect to see menu items like ceviche, but you'll also find dishes that are less palatable to those who are squeamish. For example, Peruvians routinely eat cuy—guinea pig—notes EatPeruIn fact, guinea pigs are raised for their meat (they don't even exist in the wild!).

But if cuy isn't for you, there's also Causa (potato casserole), Pollo a la Brasa (grilled chicken), Lomo Saltado (stir-fry beef), and Aji de Gallina (creamy chicken). Oh, and don't forget the number-one meat in Peru: alpaca.

Travel By Bus Or Train Throughout Peru

Buses and trains are reliable and cheap in Peru, so they're the top-recommended mode of transport. You can also catch water taxis if you're traveling around the coast, and flying within the country is pretty simple and affordable, too. In fact, flying from Lima to see Machu Picchu will only take a bit over an hour, which is doable for a day trip.

Everywhere In Peru Is Photogenic... But The Inca Sites Are Highlights

The highlight of Peru is truly the remnants of Inca civilization. But we'd have to say that the natural beauty of the country rivals the ranking of its cultural attractions. From the Andes Mountains to the Amazon river—not to mention the beaches—there's so much scenery to take in.

Other notable stops are Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon, the Nazca Lines, and Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain (it's a clay mountain that's truly a sight to behold!).

Spend Your Sol Carefully In Peru

Peru uses the Peruvian Sol, and one Sol equals .29USD. Unlike other countries, Peru doesn't have strict etiquette rules on tipping, so you want to be careful not to overspend. TripAdvisor says that a ten percent gratuity is often added to restaurant and bar tabs by default. But in mom-and-pop spots that don't add such a tip, you shouldn't offer more than one or two Soles. Overspend, and you might draw unwanted attention to yourself.

That said, with the exchange rate being in your favor, you can probably afford to spend a bit extra on souvenirs (and anything else you want).

Fly To Peru In January For The Cheapest Fare

The weather might not be ideal, but if you really want a bargain, consider flying to Peru in January, says SkyscannerThat said, prices can vary based on the airline and your origin airport. For example, flights from Sacramento, California are cheapest in April, says CheapFlightsYou can expect to pay $642 for a roundtrip ticket then, while the "average" price is $832.

Peru's History Centers On The Inca

Peru is famous for the Inca, the advanced civilization responsible for amazing architecture and stonework. Originally, the Inca Empire covered more than just Peru; it spread from Ecuador to Chile. But later exploration by Europeans (and subsequent colonization) meant an end of an era. Times continued to be troubled with military rule through the '80s, too.

But these days, Peru is a vibrant and culturally rich place to visit, and Peruvian folks are welcoming and friendly.

Beaches Span The Entire Coast Of Peru

If you want to kick back and relax on the beach, Peru is the place to do it. Lima and other coastal cities invite tourists to put their toes in the sand, and you can't go wrong no matter where you step onto the beach.

One of the most popular beaches is Playa Barranco, a public beach with a Malecon. Punta Roquitas is also a serene spot, while Playa Los Yoyos invites surfers and beach loungers alike to enjoy its tropical waves.