16 World Currencies So Beautiful You Won’t Want to Spend Them
The U.S. currency might be a classic, but few would consider the simple green beautiful. At least, not compared to other bills across the globe. All of the currencies included on this list are worthy of a frame and prime wall space.
While debit and credit cards do make traveling easier—more protection from pick-pocketing or muggings, plus there are no calculations to determine how much cash you'll actually need—but there's something a bit sad about travelers missing out on the most beautiful banknotes. So go forth: explore the global currencies of past and present and start gathering that money collection—we’re talking about that “vacation” piggy bank.
Honduras, 2 Lempira Bill
The Honduran lempira was named after Lempira, a 16th-century cacique (or leader) of the indigenous Lenca people. He is most known for leading a local resistance against the Spanish conquistadors.
Brazil, 1,000 Cruzeiro Bill
The name "Cruziero" is a nod to the constellation of the Southern Cross—more commonly known to locals as the Cruziero do Sul.
Israel, 1 Shekel Bill
The word "shekel" was originally used to describe a measure of grain, more specifically, barley—the first form of "currency" used in ancient Israel.
Cook Islands, 3 Dollar Bill
You're more likely to spot New Zealand currency in the Cook Islands (locals prefer it), but you can use $3 bills and coins in the area. All of the bills display a panorama illustration of traditional Polynesian life.
South Africa, 20 Rand Note
This currency replaced the South African Pound in February 1961, and the government introduced a mascot to help promote the new tender: Decimal Dan, the rand-cent man. There was also a jingle associated with this mascot and new form of currency.
Egypt, 50 Piastres Bill
Egyptian banknotes are bilingual—you'll find Arabic text and numbers on the obverse side of the bill and English translations on the opposite side.
Switzerland, 100 Swiss Francs
The 100 Swiss Franc features Alberto Giacometti—a Swiss sculptor, painter, printmaker, and draughtsman. This bill is a part of the eighth series of Swiss Francs, which feature a number of Swiss-born artists, writers, designers, and other notable practitioners.
Australia, 5 Dollar Bill
Queen Elizabeth II is the star of this bill—along with the Yellow Prickly Moses Wattle (a shrub common in Western Australia) and the Eastern Spinebill (a honeyeater found in Souther-Eastern Australia).
New Zealand, 50 Dollar Bill
This bill is included in the third reissue of New Zealand's banknotes, first circulated in 1999. This version was built to last four times longer than the previous designs, thanks to its non-porous material (it doesn't absorb liquids, meaning it stays cleaner longer). Sir Āpirana Turupa Ngata, a prominent New Zealand politician, is featured on this design right next to the Porourangi Meeting House. On the reverse, you'll see the blue wattled crow.
France, Mille Franc Bill
The Franc was revalued in 1960, turning 100 existing francs into one "nouveau franc." Even after the revaluation, people still used the old sum of Francs to describe large sums of money—a slightly misleading way to represent lottery prizes and other winnable amounts of money.
Uzbekistan, 500 Bill
"Som" translates to "Pure" in Kyrgyz, Uyghur, and Uzbek, three common languages in Uzbekistan. The word also implies the meaning "Pure Gold"—the perfect inspiration for a currency.
Argentina, 5000 Pesos Argentino Bill
These bills—known as the peso argentino—were used between June 6, 1983 and June 14, 1985. It was replaced by the austral by Finance Minister Juan Vital Sourrouille.
French Polynesia, 1000 Francs Bill
This banknote depicts a common French Polynesian scene and is stamped with the name of French Polynesia's capital city, Papeete. This city stamping was used to distinguish the bill from currency used in New Caledonia—which would replace "Papeete" with "Nouméa."
Germany, 20 Deutschmark Bill
This design—which is a part of the Deutschmark 1989 series—depicts Annette von Droste-Hülshoff and buildings located in the city of Meersburg. The quill pen, beech tree, and open book refer to the author's work "Die Judenbuche," or "The Jews' Beech."
Iceland, 5000 Krona Bill
Króna translates to "crown," and you're likely to hear locals refer to their currency as "Icelandic crowns" in markets around the country.
The Netherlands, 50 Dutch Guilder Bill
The very first Dutch paper banknote dates back to 1814—this particular bill denomination was circulated in 1914 and again in 1929. This particular design—which was introduced in 1970—was created by Dutch graphic artist R.D.E. Oxenaar.