Contrary to popular belief, not all European countries converted to using the Euro. In fact, the greater part of Scandinavia and the Nordic region are still using their own currencies. Scandinavia is comprised of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and arguably, Iceland. There is no “universal currency” to be used in these countries, and their currencies are not interchangeable, even if the currencies have the same name and local abbreviations.
Sounds confusing? Allow me to explain. In 1873, Denmark and Sweden established the Scandinavian Monetary Union in order to merge their currencies to a gold standard. Norway joined their ranks 2 years later. This meant that these countries now had one currency, called Krona, at the same monetary value, with the exception that each of these countries minted their own coins. The three central banks now acted as one Reserve Bank.
However, with the outbreak of the First World War, the gold standard was abandoned and the Scandinavian Monetary Union disbanded. Following the fallout, these countries decided to keep to the currency, even if the values are now separate from each other. A Swedish Crown, as it is more commonly known in English, can for instance not be used in Norway, and vice versa. Finland is the one exception to this list of Scandinavian countries, as it never joined the SMU, and is the only country among its neighbors to use the Euro.
The Danish Kroner is the currency of both Denmark and Greenland, and the official abbreviation is DKK. Denmark abandoned the Danish Rigsdaler when the Scandinavian Monetary Unit was established in favor of the new currency. The domestic abbreviation of kr or DKR can be seen on all the local price tags.
Technically, Iceland was also part of the Union, since it fell under Danish dependency. When it gained independence as a country in 1918, Iceland also decided to stick to the Krone currency, attaching their own value to it. The universal currency code for the Icelandic Krona is ISK, with the same local abbreviation code of its fellow Scandinavian countries.
Another country making use of the Krona currency, the universal currency code for the Swedish Krone is SEK, with the same “kr” abbreviation as the above-mentioned countries. Sweden is facing pressure from the Accession Treaty to join with the Eurozone and adopt the widely used Euro, but at the moment, they are still keeping to their own until a later referendum will decide otherwise.
After replacing the Norwegian Speciedaler to join up with the rest of its neighbors, the currency code for the Norwegian Krone is NOK. Again, the same local abbreviation applies. This currency is one of the strongest in the world after it reached impressive highs against the equally strong Euro and US Dollar.
As mentioned previously, Finland is the one exception, opting to adopt the Euro instead. It was the only Scandinavian country to openly embrace the change-over.
Even if it is part of Scandinavia, Finland used the Markka as their official currency from 1860 until 2002, when it officially accepted the Euro.
If you are planning a trip to more than one of these countries, it is not necessary to purchase foreign currency from home. You will usually get a very good exchange rate at the banks located in the arrival terminals. This eliminates the need to carry bulk loads of cash on you. You can also exchange money at any of the numerous ATMs for a nominal international handling fee. This will still be a more economical option than making use of an exchange office or kiosk. It is advisable that just double check with your bank prior to departure to ensure that your current card can be used from abroad.