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Youth Hostels in Distant Lands

June 25, 1995|LUCY IZON

Iceland, Luxembourg and Malta--the names are exotic but the destinations are often overlooked when travelers are planning overseas adventures. All can be expensive, but they have student-style facilities that enable curious adventurers on tight funds to visit.

In Iceland, for example, a good place to start a visit is at the Reykjavik Youth Hostel at 34 Sundlaugavegur, next to the Reykjavik city swimming pool. It is one of 28 youth hostels around the country that offer accommodations for about $21 per night.

The Reykjavik hostel has a travel service that can help arrange interesting excursions. For about $95, independent travelers can visit the Westman Islands, where millions of birds nest. That fee includes return bus and ferry transportation plus a night at the Heimaey Island Youth Hostel. Heimaey is Iceland's largest fishing port and you can still see houses that were half-buried by lava during a volcanic eruption in 1973.

Iceland's Youth Hostel Assn. has also arranged two do-it-yourself packages for independent travelers who want to cover most of the country. "Hostelling Around I" includes a pass for bus travel around the Iceland's ring road and vouchers valid for seven nights in youth hostels. The price is $381. "Hostelling Around II" includes a bus pass valid for one, two, three or four weeks of travel, plus vouchers for seven nights accommodations and discounts on bus tours. The one-week version costs $400, two weeks $502, three weeks $608 and four weeks $659.

These prices may change depending on currency exchange rates at the time of purchase. For further details, including mountain bike and walking programs or car rentals, contact the Icelandic Youth Hostel Assn., Bandalag Islenskra Farfugla, Sundlaugavegur 34, 105 Reykjavik.

In the heart of the Mediterranean, just 55 miles south of Italy, are the Maltese Islands--Malta, Gozo and Comino.

Malta's strategic location in the center of the Mediterranean Sea has drawn visitors for thousands of years, adding to the rich history of this tiny nation. Today's traveler can investigate megalithic temples that predate the pyramids, learn how the people were introduced to Christianity when St. Paul was shipwrecked here on his final journey to Rome, or enjoy Valletta, a city built by the Knights of the Order of St. John (often referred to as the Knights of Malta) when they arrived in 1530.

From Sicily you can reach Malta by ferry in eight hours, or by catamaran in three hours. The gateway youth hostel is Hibernia House at Depiro Street in Sliema. It's a city-type hostel that is part of a large student/youth residence a few minutes' walk from the sea. Travelers staying in the youth hostel section pay $8.50 per night to share eight-bedded rooms.

Members of Hostelling International are eligible for discounts on windsurfing, water-skiing and diving. Malta is favored by scuba divers because the sea temperature never drops below 55 degrees, even during the winter.

There are five youth hostels in Malta. Four are located on the island of Malta, where the longest bus journey is 40 minutes. The average ride costs eight to 12 cents. The ferry to the island of Gozo, where the fifth hostel is, takes 20 minutes and the fare is $4.25.

For details on "Go As You Please" packages, including scuba diving programs, contact NSTS Student and Youth Travel at 220 St. Paul St., Valletta VLT 07, Malta, tel. 011-356-24-4983.

Tucked between France, Belgium and Germany is tiny Luxembourg. The country is known for its dense forests and fertile vineyards.

One of the most attractive aspects of Luxembourg for budget travelers is that its 11 youth hostels are spaced just nine to 18 miles from each other, a good cycling or hiking distance.

The rates for dormitory hostels range from about $13.50 to $16 per night. If you don't have your own sheet sleeping bag, they can be rented for $4.20 a night.

Hiking and cycling tour packages are available until Oct. 31. The hiking program costs $217 and includes seven nights' accommodation, full board, maps and information. The cycling program costs $325 and includes seven nights' accommodation, full board, bike rental, a repair kit, maps and a city tour by bicycle.

Both packages must be booked at least one week in advance. Contact Centrale des Auberges de Jeunesse Luxembourgeoises 18, Place d'Armes, B.P. 374, L-2013 Luxembourg; tel. 011-352-22-55-88, fax 011-352-46-39-87.

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