Currencies in Eastern Europe

East Europe Currencies Trip

Using Money from Forints to Zloty

When traveling around Eastern Europe, chances are you’re changing currencies regularly. How can you get Zloty and Koruna straight in your mind, and your wallet?

Traveling around Eastern Europe often means crossing a lot of borders. While most of Western Europe rationalized to one currency, the Euro, Eastern Europe has yet to do so. This means you might be changing currencies a few times per trip, and that can make things complicated.

Right now, every Eastern European country has a separate currency. This is good news if you’re a coin collector but not so great if your main goal is keeping track of your finances as you travel.

Not only is calculating the conversion a problem – you can quickly lose track of the real value of accommodation or food – but every time you change or withdraw money overseas, somebody else wins, be it the bank, credit card company or the local exchange counter.

Eastern European Currencies Today

Many of the currencies you’ll get to use on your travels in Eastern Europe are relatively new, introduced when independent nations were formed in the early 1990s. Others hark back to historical currencies used for centuries.

Some have similar names: Rubles are used in both Russia and in Belarus, and various words meaning “crown” are used in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (koruna) and Estonia (kroon). Words which translate to “golden” are also common, such as forint in Hungary and zloty in Poland.

The values of these currencies compared to the US$ vary widely, and keeping some idea in your head of the value of your purse contents is tricky.

Plan ahead and create some handy currency converters before you travel: online converting sites like Oanda have a facility where you can print a crib sheet for each currency you need.

The Future for Eastern European Money

Half of Eastern Europe already belongs to the European Union, and this makes it very likely that in the coming years, the individual currencies will be swallowed up by the Euro.

Other countries will follow, as soon as their economic situation matches the demands set by the Maastricht Treaty. Some countries, of course, may never join the European Union – Russia being the obvious example – so the rouble, at least, is probably here to stay.