This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Norway is a bucket list destination for so many reasons, including the striking natural landscapes, the Northern Lights and the nation’s Viking roots. But where there is a lot to explore, there’s plenty of room to make mistakes.

Like with any trip to a Scandinavian country, booking specific activities ahead of time can keep you from overspending. And doing a bit of planning on an actual map can save you a lot of disappointment. We rounded up eight common mistakes travelers make when visiting the Land of the Midnight Sun, so you won’t do the same on your journey.

(Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.)
Midnight — yes, midnight hikes. (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.)

1. Not Budgeting for Food and Gas

Norway is an expensive place to visit, and there’s no sugarcoating it. Chances are, unless you live in another remote Scandinavian country (Iceland, we’re looking at you), it’s going to cost you much more to eat or fill up your car than it would at home. You can reduce the overall cost by booking a rental with a kitchen and hitting up supermarkets for meals. Just steer clear of overpriced gas station and convenience store snacks. As for gas, which can cost more than $7.60 per gallon, try to fill up on Sundays, when prices may be lower.

2. Forgetting to Check for Road Closures

If you’re visiting during the wintertime, chances are you’ll encounter some inclement weather. It could be snow, it could be sleet and it could be icy rain; it all depends on how far north you are. Keep this in mind as you’re planning your trip and become acquainted with the local weather website. Take a look at the weather patterns from the year prior for a good idea of what to expect. If road tripping is on your agenda, build in a few days of wiggle room in case any major roads close.

3. Underestimating Norway’s Size 

Given that Norway spans a lot of area from north to south, the country’s landscapes change drastically. For reference, if you’re only planning to visit Oslo, you won’t be anywhere near the dramatic fjords you see on Instagram. Many travelers assume that Norway’s wilds are a quick drive or bus ride away, when in reality, it’s a significant journey. Bergen is the spot you’ll want to visit if you’re looking for fjords, and it’s a seven-hour drive from Oslo, while travelers seeking the aurora borealis will want to start in Tromsø, which is above the Arctic Circle and a two-hour flight from Oslo. Identify your priorities (great restaurants, nature, Northern Lights) and plan accordingly.

4. Purchasing Train Tickets at the Station

Booking train tickets ahead of time can save save you a lot of money. In general, you should plan train trips around Norway well in advance. Travelers can buy Eurail passes exclusively for Norway, or opt for a Scandinavia Pass, which, in addition to Norway, includes rides in Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

5. Waiting Too Long to Reserve a Room

The tourist high season in Norway is from mid-June to mid-August. With better weather, it’s easier to drive around the country, enjoying city scenes as well as incredible hiking. With that in mind, northern Norway is also pretty booked up during the winter, when you can spot the Northern Lights. During these peak tourist times, Airbnbs and hotels fill quickly, especially if it’s a more unconventional experience: say a cabin lined with windows. I’ve seen properties fill up months in advance.

(Photo by Uwe Küchler via Unsplash.)
(Photo by Uwe Küchler via Unsplash.)

6. Expecting to See Auroras All the Time

This just won’t happen. You’ve got to plan a trip to the north in the wintertime to see the Northern Lights, and even then, the elusive aurora borealis may not make an appearance. Tromsø is a known hotspot for Northern Lights spotting, making it a great place to start. But inclement weather and low geomagnetic activity can reduce your chances even if you’re in the right place at the right time of year.

7. Not Preparing for the Solstices 

Similarly, if you’re in northern Norway, you won’t be getting too much sunlight during the winter. At some latitudes during the winter solstice, the sun won’t even rise. The exact opposite is true during the summer: There’s a lot of sun and you’re going to want black-out blinds or a heavy-duty eye mask wherever you’re staying. The summer solstice is a great time of year to see the midnight sun and take lengthy hikes or drives. But you definitely will not see the Northern Lights.

8. Staying in Town

Remember those aforementioned fjords? Norway’s cities are great, but you’d be remiss if you didn’t take advantage of the country’s allemannsretten, or “right of access” policy. In the spirit of making nature accessible to all, you can venture almost anywhere in the Norwegian countryside without restriction. The national parks are free, and it’s possible to pitch a tent, hike or cross-country ski in nearly every stretch of wilderness.

Visitors should also ask a local for the best hiking and camping spots. Not only can they give you more detailed information about the condition of the trails at any point of the year, but they can also direct you to some less-crowded hikes. If anything, this is an excuse to head to a local bar and strike up a conversation.

Feature image by Valentin Wallet via Unsplash.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.