The most sparsely populated country in all of Europe, Iceland is also quickly becoming one of the continent's top vacation destinations due to its peaceful way of life and magical scenery. Dominated by frosty lakes, geothermal spas, stunning waterfalls, and glacial national parks, Iceland has proven to be hugely poplar with nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
This small but significant nation has also attracted many people who are looking to escape from the noise and lights of big cities to see and experience a more peaceful way of life. Many visitors to Iceland spend time in the country's capital of Reykjavik, while others visit national parks like Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull. Wherever you're going in Iceland, here's all you need to know about Icelandic currency.
Official Currency in Iceland
The official currency used in the nation of Iceland is the Icelandic króna. The word 'króna' translates as 'crown' in English, so you may also hear many people refer to Iceland's currency as the Icelandic crown. The symbol for this currency is simply 'kr' and its ISO code is ISK. Iceland is actually the second smallest country in the world, in terms of population, to have its own unique currency.
Historically, the Danish krone was used in Iceland, but the Icelandic króna was introduced in the early 20th century, with the first coins being issued in 1922. The króna was revalued in the 1980s, with a 1 new króna being valued as 100 old króna.
Coins and Notes in Iceland
The Icelandic króna currency features both coins and notes. You’ll find króna coins in the following denominations:
- 1 króna
- 5 króna
- 10 króna
- 50 króna
- 100 króna
Interestingly, unlike other currencies where a single unit can be broken down into smaller units (i.e. 1 US dollar = 100 cents), a single krona is the smallest monetary unit used in Iceland. In the past, a króna could be broken down into 100 aurar (cents), and aurar coins were issued, but they are no longer produced or accepted.
The three smallest values of króna coin are silver in color, while the two largest values are golden. The coins are clearly marked with their monetary value and also with images of animals on one side like dolphins and crabs, and mythical creatures on the other side like giants and wights.
In addition to the coins listed above, you can find the following notes being used in Iceland:
- 500 kr
- 1000 kr
- 2000 kr
- 5000 kr
- 10000 kr
The notes used in Iceland are easy to tell apart as they each have their own color and size. The notes get larger in size as their value increases. The 500 kr note is red, the 1000 kr note is purple, the 2000 kr note has a multicolor design, the 5000 kr note is a mixture of blue and green, and the 10000 kr note is blue. The notes feature images of important people from Iceland's past, as well as other images of buildings and items.
Using Credit Cards in Iceland
Some people are under the misconception that due to Iceland's small size and population, the country isn't particularly advanced in terms of technology. In actual fact, Iceland has been very quick to adopt new technologies and advancements, so the use of credit and debit cards in Iceland is extremely high. In fact, a huge percentage of payments in Iceland are made by card, and most people don't even carry much cash around with them.
This means that you can mostly get by with your cards in Iceland, and you don’t even necessarily need to get any cash before you go or during your visit. It is still recommended to have a little bit of cash on your person at any one time, just in case you encounter a situation where card payments aren’t possible. In general, though, cards are the best way to pay in Iceland.
Using US Dollars or Other Currencies in Brazil
You might find that some hotels or tour guides in the big touristic locations will accept US dollars or euros in Iceland, but the króna is the only official currency and will be the only one accepted at most establishments.
Tips for Currency in Iceland
You can have the best possible time during your Icelandic vacation and avoid any money problems by following these top tips:
- Iceland has a unique system of 'tax-free shopping' which you can take advantage of. If you make a purchase of more than 6000 króna in one go, you'll qualify for a tax free purchase. This only works on souvenirs, clothes, and similar items, so you can't use it on food in a restaurant, but it can provide some big savings. The usual value added tax (VAT) in Iceland is 25.5%, so getting this money refunded can be a nice bonus.
- As previously stated, Icelandic people don't tend to use cash in general and are always paying for almost everything with their cards. You can do the same, and it's perfectly possible to get through an entire trip to Iceland without even touching any money.
- If you do want to make use of cash during your time in Iceland, you'll be able to find ATMs quite easily around the big cities like Reykjavik. You may be charged for each time you use an ATM, however, so check with your bank beforehand and avoid using ATMs too often.
- Tipping isn't necessary in Iceland as a gratuity charge is usually added on to the costs of meals in restaurants. Giving extra tips and tipping people like taxi drivers isn't really a part of Icelandic culture, but workers will still happily accept any extra money you'd like to give them for good service.