If you visit a number of Scandinavian countries you will come across currencies very similar to the Icelandic krona. For example Sweden has the krona while Norway uses the similarly named krone. Since this is a decimal currency it is further divided into 100 aurar, which is the plural of the singular eyrir. The plural of krona is kronur.
At the moment there are five coins in circulation that are valid currency. These are the 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 kronur coins. There are also five banknotes – these are the 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 kronur notes.
You may have noticed the above coins and banknotes do not feature the eyrir, of which there are 100 in a single krona. This is because these coins are consigned to the past. The first time the Icelandic krona came into circulation in the country was back in 1874. At this point it was known as the Danish krone and it would not be until the end of the First World War in 1918 that Iceland broke away from Denmark and created its own proper krona.
One unusual and yet practical aspect of spending money in Iceland is that you often find you can pay with currencies other than the krona. You should of course travel prepared and make sure you have some krona notes and coins with you. However some places do accept other currencies as well. This is worth knowing if you are going to visit the country in the near future.
With that said however, you will probably also find you don’t use cash very much at all. You will use it for the smallest bits and pieces but most purchases will warrant being paid for with a credit or debit card. The reason is that Iceland is very expensive compared to many other countries. The main reason for this is that much of what is sold here is imported from other countries, which automatically increases the cost. When you consider where Iceland is and what the weather is like, you will understand this applies to fruit and vegetables and other things that are grown. Iceland very often doesn’t have the conditions that are ideal for this.
Aside from this, most major cities and towns will have cash points you can use and card use is welcomed in most places. As you will see when you realise just how expensive Iceland can be, you may be using those cards more often than you might think.
The exchange rate between your currency and the Icelandic krona can be prone to vary quite a lot. Despite its geographical location in the world Iceland is not a part of the European Union. Thus it does not use the Euro and it has no say in what goes on in this part of the world.
As such you will sometimes find the exchange rate with Iceland can fluctuate quite a bit. The most dramatic time this occurred was back in 2008 when the value dropped significantly. Even though many parts of the world went through a severe recession back then, Iceland’s krona suffered to a great degree.
Today’s rates are easy to find on your favourite currency converter. Just look for your own currency and that of the krona and convert one to the other. You can find out the ‘per unit’ rate or convert a specific amount if you know how much cash you would like to take with you.
To find out more about Iceland and the information you may need to know if you are thinking of visiting there in the near future, you should visit their official embassy website. This can be found at http://www.iceland.is/iceland-abroad/uk/.
With all this talk about how expensive everything is in Iceland, you may wonder if there is a good side to visiting the country. Of course there are several good things about it – not least the scenery. Another major factor is that Iceland is incredibly safe. It is not a country that is known for its violence or high levels of crime – quite the opposite in fact.
Many tourist areas in other countries are somewhat plagued by opportunistic pickpockets and other casual thieves, but this is not the case in Iceland. One thing you do need to be careful of is to watch your step wherever you go, particularly if you visit the glaciers. This is really the main safety issue you have to think about, as it will be quite unlike anywhere else you have been on holiday.
Think of Iceland and the first place that probably comes to mind is Reykjavik. This is one of the most popular areas people tend to visit on holiday. It is the capital city of the country and can be found in the south west. It has been populated for many centuries and boasts the stunning Esja mountain range among other things. It has been an active area over the centuries, with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions both adding to the landscape you will see when you visit today.
Even while Reykjavik is known to be snow covered for part of the year, it is not always like this. In fact during comparatively warmer weather the city shows an entirely different and rather colourful side thanks to its many buildings and structures. You should check out the Grimsbaer shopping centre in the city, and visit the Blue Lagoon too – a wonderfully and appropriately named geothermal spa.
Of course Iceland is comprised of far more than just its capital city. One key sight many travellers make the time to see is Gullfoss, which literally translates into Golden Falls. There are two drops in total, sending hundreds of gallons of water over a height of up to 21 metres every minute.
What else is there to see and do in Iceland? Well, while you are there you may just have a chance to see the famous Northern Lights. This is an amazing natural phenomenon that requires clear skies but if you get them you can see an incredible light show that is unsurpassed by anything mere humans could create.
For something a little different still, why not try the Ring Road? It may not sound that appealing if you are comparing it mentally to something you would encounter at home, but in reality you can travel more than eight hundred miles on this one. It is a road that loops around the entire country, taking in many coastal destinations and major sights along the way. It is the perfect way for travel hungry visitors to see the best of Iceland while following just one road. Most people take around ten days to drive it and you can book your hire car to collect at the airport when you arrive and drop off when it is time to return home. If you want to cover the best of Iceland and see as much of it as possible in the shortest time, this could be the ideal way to spend some of your money.
We’ve already mentioned the Blue Lagoon but you might also want to visit the Geysir Hot Springs, which are a short distance to the north east of the capital city of Reykjavik. Alternatively if winter sports are more your thing, you can try a visit to Vatnajokull National Park. This is a real treat as it has canyons, glaciers and plenty of ice to climb up and try to stay upright on as well.
As for the food, well, there are some real treats and some very different dishes on offer here. Not surprisingly a lot of it is based around fresh fish, and seeing as you are in Iceland you can be sure it is fresh too. Salt fish is making a comeback after being used often in the past, and you can also try shark, or hakarl as it is known when it is cured.
While some of the dishes can be unnerving to look at and sometimes to smell, don’t let this put you off. Iceland is also capable of producing some truly fine dishes and delights to try. Fresh lamb regularly makes its way onto menus but be prepared at the prices – wherever you go and whatever you eat you are likely to pay a high price per head for the bill. That’s Iceland for you.
As you can see, a trip to Iceland is very unlike many other places you could go to in the world. It is an experience all of its own and this is what makes Iceland so appealing to some and very avoidable to others!
However if you are brave enough to give it a try you will be glad you did. Even if you steer clear of some of the less appealing dishes you will have a sensational time drinking in all the sights the country has to share with you.