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Living in Reykjavík
A comprehensive guide about living well in Reykjavík
Living in Reykjavik can be an amazing experience, fine-tuned with a variation of light hours, from 4 to more than 16 per day. Whether in darkness or sunlight, Reykjavik is a welcoming city. In this guide, you’ll learn all about the city’s culture, transportation, education system and more.
Life in Reykjavík
Culture and Leisure
Living in Reykjavík as an expatriate means you can fully immerse yourself in the Icelandic way of life. As the capital and largest city, Reykjavík is home to many Icelandic cultural institutions and museums, including the Safnahúsið or ‘Culture House’, which opened in 1909 and houses a number of artistic and cultural exhibitions, including the Poetic Edda and the Sagas in original manuscript form.
Reykjavík is also known for its weekend nightlife, and the city has over one hundred bars, restaurants, and clubs to keep residents and expatriates entertained, most of which are located on Laugavegur in downtown Reykjavík. As beer was banned in Iceland until 1998, it is now a very popular drink, and the city is home to a whole host of independent and craft breweries.
Handball, football and basketball are the most popular sports and the two Reykjavík football clubs, KR Reykjavík and Valur, are the most successful in the country. Reykjavík is welcoming, friendly, buzzing city, with lots to see and do.
Education in Reykjavík
Like many other Nordic and Scandinavian nations, Iceland has free, compulsory education for all children from the ages of six to sixteen. As an expatriate living in Reykjavík with your family, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are a number of highly regarded international schools in the city, all of which offer classes in English.
The oldest and most prestigious, the International School of Iceland, is a not for profit community school that offers bilingual study in English and Icelandic, as well a full curriculum solely in English for families living in Reykjavík in the short term.
Reykjavík also has a number of universities that would be suitable for international and expatriate students, including the University of Iceland and Reykjavík University, as well as the Iceland Academy of the Arts.
Transportation in Reykjavík
Despite the fact that per capita car ownership is higher in Iceland than anywhere else (with around 522 cars for every 1,000 residents), roads in Reykjavík are rarely congested and traffic is not commonplace.
This high car ownership is due to the fact that there are no railways anywhere in Iceland because of the small population. There is, however, a bus network operating in the city called Strætó bs. Route 1, which takes the ring road around Reykjavík and connects it with nearby towns and cities.
Should you wish to drive whilst living in Reykjavík, you can do so with a valid European or US license. Licenses from some countries aren’t accepted, however, so you should check with the authorities before you get behind the wheel. The speed limit is 90 km/h on hard surface roads and 50 km/h in town and city centers, and seat belt laws are strictly enforced. You should also have your headlights on at all times.
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