The Krona which literally translates as 'crown' is the standard unit of currency in Iceland. It is very similar to other currencies used within Scandinavia, such as the Norwegian Krone or the Swedish krona.
The krona is further subdivided into 100 aurar (this is plural, the singular is eyrir).
History of the Krona
The Krona was originally introduced to Iceland in 1874 when it was a Danish krone, this replaced the Danish currency known as the rigsdaler.
The loose separation of the Icelandic krona from the Danish krone only happened after the Scandinavian Monetary Union was abolished at the beginning of the First World War. Iceland then gained full autonomy from Denmark in the year 1918 and the first Icelandic krona were circulated in 1922.
The krona in current circulation
The krona in circulation currently is issued in denominations of 1 and 5 kronur coins and 10 krona coins.
The notes circulated are usually in denominations of 500, 1000, 5,000 krona. It is true that some 2000 krona notes are in circulation, but they are quite rare.
The krona in context
Iceland is not a member of the European Union and as such, Iceland and her currency stand quite alone. This means that it can be quite a volatile currency and may fluctuate widely not just against the US and Canadian dollars but also against the euro and the other currencies within Scandinavia.
Due to the fact that the currency can fluctuate so much there has been recent discussion within Iceland as to whether or not they ought to join the countries which use the Euro. However, there is still strong resistance to the concept of Iceland joining the European Union. So Iceland is keen to explore whether or not it would be possible, for it to use the euro and yet still remain outside the European Union.
Surveys carried out in 2007, showed that the population is largely undecided as to whether or not it should adopt the euro as its official currency. As a result this issue is likely to be unresolved for some time.
Money in Iceland
When in Iceland you may well find that you are able to use foreign currency in the larger shops and stores. This is because some people prefer to retain some foreign currency and thus protect themselves against the volatility and fluctuation of the krone.
You also find that you can pay for most things using a credit or debit card, so really, you only need cash to pay for smaller items and perhaps some drinks.
That being said, because Iceland is such an expensive country, you may well find that you could actually use your credit card to pay for everything.
It is indeed very expensive to buy anything in Iceland. This is because everything, almost, has to be imported. Fruit and vegetables are particularly expensive as is beer. Spirits are even more expensive due to the fact that alcohol is taxed according to how strong it is.
Eating out in Iceland is also very expensive: it is very easy to spend about £40 per head on a reasonable meal, without even having a glass of wine. If you were to dine at some of the most expensive restaurants this figure could almost double.
Even renting a car can be expensive, but a car is a very good way to get around the island. However, once you have rented your car you then have to fill it with picture and diesel and this is substantially more expensive than in the United Kingdom.
Due if to the fact that Icelandic is such expensive place, if you are thinking of travelling to Iceland, then you need to be aware of the implications that any sharp fluctuations of the krona may have. If you are very short of money, any sharp fluctuation may mean that you get very few krona for your pounds, euros or dollars. This could significantly impact on your holiday. So however much you think the holiday will cost always try to budget so that you can take a little more money, or spend a little more money while you are there, because Iceland is a very difficult place to visit on a shoestring.
Hotels are also expensive in Iceland. Generally they are very clean and quite well maintained however, you don't get an awful lot for your money. If money is tight then you could consider a guest house, which is cheaper, but again very expensive for what you might get. Iceland does have a lot of hostels which are considerably cheaper, but if you are somebody who likes your creature comforts, then you will be better off in a hotel. If money is extremely tight, you should consider camping. There are lots of campsites dotted around the country and many of these can be fully equipped with showers and washing machines or you can also choose a very basic site, which will be something like a field and a tap. The tap may or may not work!
Staying safe in Iceland
Crime in Iceland is virtually unheard of and it is an extremely safe place to visit and the people are generally very friendly. Obviously if you are careless with your valuables, then you may either lose them or, if you leave them unattended someone may pick them up and take them away, but the risk of pickpockets or bag snatchers is exceptionally low.
There are lots of signs in Iceland warning people to exercise care, particularly in some of the rural areas or near the glaciers. Always take heed of the signs because they are there for a reason.
What is there to do in Iceland?
Iceland is a place that can offer a very unique holiday experience. Somehow, Iceland just seems very different from other countries and although its history is very closely linked to Denmark, there is a very distinct Icelandic feel throughout the country. People who live here are very independent and quite a proud people. Historically, they have had be very resilient and people today still have that resilience and strength of character. There is a sense of Iceland being very remote and there is a sense that people have had to look after themselves and each other since Iceland was first inhabited. Somehow this makes the people a little bit different, from most other people that you will meet. And generally, we don't get to meet a lot of people from Iceland, so to some extent they are quite unknown. Which adds to the mystical aura of this very special island.
Most people at least start off visiting Reykjavik which is proud of the fact that it is the most northern capital in the world. Most of Iceland's population lives in Reykjavik and it is very much seen as the centre for Icelandic people. It is a very beautiful town and a good way to see round it is actually on foot.
There are some good museums and interesting buildings in Reykjavik along with some fantastic geothermal swimming pools. Make sure you check one out.
But the only way to see Iceland is to get out and about within the countryside. Nature is very important in Iceland and wildlife is all around you. You can even find one of the biggest bird cliffs in the world, located in the West Fjords. Icelanders tend to have a very intense relationship with nature and sometimes they have received a bad press because of hunting whales etc but it is important to note that Icelanders are very respectful of nature.
Here you can go whale watching looking for blue whales or humpback whales and so on. There are also lots of dolphins to be seen including porpoises. Anyone who doubts the intelligence of dolphins should just spend a few hours watching them play, they are truly amazing.
Once thing you should also try and do is to take in a glacier tour. You will be taken up to the top of a glacial mountain and then you can go around on a snowmobile. Sometimes there can be hidden cracks at any point in the glacier which means that you should not go up to the top of a glacier on your own but you should always go in an organised tour, where you will have experienced guides to help and advise you.
If you are visiting Iceland in June then go up to northern Iceland to take in the midnight sun which happens at Midsummer. You can even play golf at midnight, because the sun doesn't really set. The quality of light is really different and somehow the midnight sun seems to give Iceland some kind of magical feeling. Once you have experienced the light and seen the midnight sun, then you will actually understand this. You will probably want come back and see it again and experience the magic again.
Other activities are available and you can go fishing, go out on a boat, try some river rafting or visit when one of the many local festivals is on. Icelanders certainly know how to make their own entertainment and enjoy themselves, so there is lots going on all year round.
If you plan to go to Iceland in the winter remember that the days will be exceptionally short and it will be extremely cold. Some of the most striking of the natural tourist attractions may also be inaccessible due to the weather. That is why you are better to visit Iceland between the months of March and late October.
If funds permit do try and a visit Iceland. This is not a package holiday, and you will not have everything laid on for you, you will have to do some thinking for yourself and you probably won't be able to lie on the beach and get a very deep suntan. You probably will not be able to afford to shop till you drop, but in a sense all these things actually contribute to just why Iceland is such a fantastically different place to visit. Try to see as much as you can and also talk to as many of the people as you can, they really help make Iceland just that little bit more special.