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Youth Beat

Iceland's Hot Bargains, Cool Tours

June 12, 1988|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Canadian travel journalist covering youth budget routes.

Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the world. During the summer months, however, it has special transportation and accommodation packages that can help travelers cope with costs.

Travelers can buy special Sleep As You Please packages that include vouchers for seven nights of sleeping-bag accommodations for $100 U.S. The sleep-cheap facilities are in 29 hotels, dormitories and farmhouses.

Sleep As You Please packages are sold through Icelandair or from Reykjavik Excursions offices in Iceland.

Two types of transportation passes can be bought through travel agents or at bus company offices in Reykjavik:

Omnibus Passports allow unlimited travel on scheduled bus services throughout the island country. This summer a one-week pass is $170 U.S., two weeks is $210, three weeks is $275 and four weeks $300.

Circling Iceland

The Full-Circle Passport allows use of scheduled bus services along the main road that circles Iceland. No limit on stops (the ticket is valid for a year), but travel must continue in the same direction. Cost is $145.

Iceland is a land of volcanoes, geysers, natural hot springs, waterfalls and glaciers. At times the landscape looks more like the moon than a section of Earth. From now until the beginning of August, parts of the country have 24 hours of daylight.

Northern Iceland touches the Arctic Circle, yet is within the path of the temperate Gulf Stream. The best time to visit is during the summer until late September. The afternoon temperature is generally between 50 and 54 degrees in the populated lowlands.

For this kind of weather take woolens and a waterproof coat. Also pack a swimsuit to take advantage of the hot springs, and sturdy shoes for walking.

Alternative Accommodations

In Reykjavik, the world's most northerly capital, consider the central youth hostel at Laufasvegur 41. That's where you can buy a handbook listing the countries' 19 youth hostels and alternative sleeping-bag accommodations.

The typical rate for staying at an Icelandic youth hostel is $12. If you need a sheet-sleeping bag the rental is $3 a night. Prepared breakfasts cost $7.50.

One advantage of the hostels is their kitchens. In Iceland the food sold in supermarkets is expensive but not prohibitively so. Restaurant meals and prepared take-out foods are extremely expensive.

The Reykjavik central hostel also has a travel agency that helps arrange side trips. It sells packages that incorporate transportation passes with vouchers for overnight lodgings in youth hostels.

For example, the Omnibus Passport package includes the transportation ticket and coupons for seven nights of lodging in youth hostels and similar alternative facilities.

Travel Pass

A package with a one-week travel pass costs $225 U.S. It's $261 for two weeks, $318 for three weeks, $349 for four weeks, and is available until Sept. 15.

A Full-Circle Passport with vouchers for seven nights of lodging is $205; available until Aug. 31.

Iceland's youth hostel association also will be operating 12-day walking tours in remote mountain country on June 25, July 5, 19 and 29 and Aug. 16 and 28. The $414 fee covers a guide, meals, transportation and two nights at a Reykjavik youth hostel.

For more information on Iceland, contact the Scandinavian National Tourist Offices, 655 3rd Ave., 18th Floor, New York 10017, (212) 949-2333.

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