If you can't afford Iceland's Blue Lagoon, here's a great $9 alternative

How a $95 day at Iceland's Blue Lagoon stacks up to this $9 alternative

Soaking in Iceland's stunning Blue Lagoon is memorable and soothing, but it isn't cheap. It'll cost you a minimum of $55 to get in the door, and that doesn't include food, drinks or towel rental.

That said, if you can make room in your budget to spend a day at Iceland's most famous geothermal spa, I found that it was worth every penny when I shelled out $95 to visit in late April.

Of course, if you're on a shoestring budget and the Blue Lagoon doesn't make the cut, you have some cheaper alternatives, including a $9 one: Swimming in one of Iceland's public pools, or sundlaugs.

Mingling with the locals at the Laugardalslaug pool

No matter where you are in the country, chances are you're near a local pool. Every Icelandic town, regardless the size, has its own. As Dan Kois of the New York Times reports, the pools "serve as the communal heart of Iceland, sacred places whose affordability and ubiquity are viewed as a kind of civil right."

The pools are usually geothermally heated, meaning you can enjoy them in 40 degree weather, which is exactly what I did after a half-day of touring Reykjavik, the capital city.

I happened upon Laugardalslaug, the city's largest pool, paid $9 to enter and spent a full afternoon swimming happily with the locals.

What the Blue Lagoon had in luxurious spa amenities, the public pool made up for in fun

Sure, it's not the Blue Lagoon. There's no swim-up bar or in-water massages. But what the public pool lacked in spa-style amenities, it made up for in fun. There was a basketball hoop, a hot tub and even a water slide.

Plus, I got to hang out with the people who lived in the area, which was a refreshing close to my day spent checking out tourist attractions.

If you want spa-level relaxation and the perfect Instagram — and have the extra $100 to spend — the Blue Lagoon is your spot. If you're sticking to a tight budget but still want to experience Iceland's geothermal pools, the neighborhood sundlaug will do the trick.

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