The Most Beautiful World Banknotes-Some of the Best Currency Designs From Around the World
Updated: Aug 17, 2022
This site predominately focuses on coins and precious metals, but there is a certain beauty to collecting world banknotes since the colors and intricate designs expressed on paper currency cannot be matched by metal engraving.
Monetary sovereignty is essential for any independent country, and typically a nation will include the most prominent historical figures or events, themes, motifs, and symbols on its currency, which offers a glimpse into the country's culture.
Once you collect several banknotes from all of the countries in the world, it can provide a window into all of the various cultures around the globe and a snapshot of humanity. Below are some of the most beautiful and interesting banknote designs I've seen after building my currency collection the past few years.
South Vietnamese 20 Dong
First circulated in South Vietnam during the 1950s, this vibrant and colorful banknote really speaks to the beauty of the Vietnam countryside. Interestingly, there is a tiger in the center watermark of the bill, which also expresses the allure of Vietnam's wildlife
2017 $10 Canadian Banknote
This commemorative note for Canada's 150th anniversary seems to encapsulate some of the most important people, landscapes, symbols, and places of Canadian culture.
On the front, there are some of Canada's most prominent historical figures such as Sir John Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister, and Agnes Macphail who was a champion of equality and human rights.
The background of the front of the banknote also features Canada's Parliament Hill along with the arch located inside the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill to honor Canadians who died in military service during the First World War.
The reverse of the note beautifully features Canada's most prominent landscapes including coast mountains--these iconic peaks overlook Vancouver in British Columbia; prairies--wheat is one of the most important cultivated crops in all of Canada, which is mostly grown in the prairie provinces of Western Canada; forests--cover roughly half of the total land area of Canada; the Atlantic Coast; and the Northern Lights--these northern lights dance above the largest national park in Canada, Wood Buffalo.
Inside the polymer window of the banknote, there is the Canadian coat of arms, the iconic maple leaf national symbol, and an owl designed by an Inuit artist.
200/1000 Kroner Faroe Island Banknote
The average person is probably not familiar with the Faroe Islands. It is a North Atlantic archipelago and island country located about halfway between Iceland and Norway.
These banknotes are probably the best examples in this list of how banknotes can be pieces of art. Using washed out tones, the banknotes seem like watercolor paintings that should be framed instead of exchanged as currency.
These banknotes feature a sandpiper bird and a ghost moth as a part of a series focusing on local wildlife. The series is a tribute to the diversity of animal fauna of the Faroese Archipelago, which has a grandiose, wild, and unspoiled nature.
$10 Eastern Caribbean Banknote
The Eastern Caribbean Dollar is the official currency in the East Caribbean since 1965, which includes the Caribbean nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent Grenadines as well as Anguilla and Montserrat, which are British overseas territories.
The banknote features Queen Elizabeth II, a hummingbird, brown pelican, tropical fish, and a plant called the green-throated carib. The banknote does a wonderful job of expressing the beauty of the islands as well as the local plants and wildlife in a vertical format.
Ugandan 50,000 Shilling
This Ugandan banknote is currently in circulation and shows the Stride Monument in the nation's capital of Kampala, which depicts the country moving forward and developing together as a family.
On the reverse, it shows a map of Uganda on the equatorial line, and the Independence Monument celebrating independence from the British government.
The reverse also shows the Bwindi tropical rain forest, which is one of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth and home to half of the world's mountain gorilla population.
2017 Armenian 500 Dram
The famous biblical story of Noah's Ark was selected as a motif for this Armenian banknote. Supposedly, the Ark from the biblical flood came to a rest atop Mount Ararat in modern-day Armenia.
The design is a very colorful depiction of the story, and it is interesting that the country dedicated this banknote solely to this biblical event.
French Pacific 1,000/500 Franc
Issued in the French Pacific territories from 1986-2013, these banknotes are just captivating representations of the French Pacific territories, which include New Caledonia and Tahiti.
The two banknotes really express the beauty of the local fauna such as the Tagu bird on the 1,000 note. The 500 note displays the great importance of the sea in Polynesian life.
1,000 Francs French Banknote
This banknote issued by France in the 1940s is testament to classic design and ancient motifs that cannot be found on modern notes.
The banknote features the seated Greek god Demeter with a young Hercules on his knees. The front also includes a Provencal landscape including a shepherd and goats.
The reverse shows various events of Hercules' life, a statue of the Greek god Mercury, and the port and city of Rouen.
1957 Laotian100 Kip
This banknote issued by Laos in 1957 has gorgeous imagery depicting King Sisavang Phoulivong on the front. On top of two royal chalices are the book of the constitution and four dragon-like Naga serpents, which are also on the front.
The reverse shows a young Laotian woman holding a bowl of roses and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is now an incredible museum.
2017 Swiss 10 Franc Banknote
What's most intriguing about this Swiss banknote issued in 2017 is that all of the images and design revolve around the key motif of time.
The front displays a pair of hands conducting time with a baton and a globe with time zones drawn around the International Date Line.
The reverse features the movements of a watch, which symbolize the country's strong organizational talent, and a rail network paying tribute to Switzerland's world renowned punctual rail network.
2010 Omani 5 Rials
This banknote is a commemorative honoring the 40th year of Oman's independence from Britain.
What's specular about this note is the use of eye-popping color that makes this one of the most vibrant bills on this list.
The banknote shows the Sultan on the front with a grand view of an Oman city on the reverse including a mosque in the center as the focal point.