Historic Swims & World-famous Cuisine
Europe and Asia collide in a rich historical blend of old and new. Discover architecture shaped by a succession of fallen empires, ruins carved by ancient wars, and, of course, a world-famous cuisine reflecting a vibrant country with a long and fascinating history.
Expect a festival for the senses: spices, olive groves, ancient ports, rocky islands, soaring Byzantine structures, and the world-famous cultural tapestry of Istanbul. Turkey is also a nation of outdoor swimmers - home to the famous Bosphorus and Hellespont swims, and a long and gorgeous coastline, with boulder-strewn coastlines washed by Mediterranean and Aegean waters. Diving, rafting, gorge-scrambling, kayaking, swimming and sailing are all popular pastimes among tourists and locals. In fact, Turkey has some of the world’s clearest waters, especially around the Turquoise Coast. It’s no wonder it has become a favourite destination among our SwimTrek guides and returning guests.
Here’s a selection of Turkish experiences for you to explore. Dive deep into the local wonders and discover some of the shimmering depth this nation has to offer:
Swim Beside The Lycian Way
Hop aboard a traditional Turkish gulet and join one of our Classic or Short Swims Lycian Way adventures along the southern coastline. Tours include a variety of coastal swims and point-to-point crossings in the Mediterranean waters around the Turquoise Coast. Prepare yourself for submerged natural features, like cave networks and archways, or man-made objects (such as a DC-3 aircraft or even a tank!), as you weave between scattered archipelagos, stopping off at the dusty ruins of Aperlai before travelling on alongside the iconic Lycian Way walk. You’ll have time to kick back in the sleepy waterside village of Kas and plenty of opportunities to sample traditional Turkish lunches on board the boat, before stretching out and resting it off in the arms of the lapping ocean.
- Swim alongside parts of the famous 509km Lycian Way walking path from Fethiye to Antalya.
- Discover the historic ruins of Aperlai, above and below the water.
- Soak up the warm Turkish hospitality in the seaside village of Kas, where you’ll be based.
Follow Byron Across the Hellespont
The World’s Oldest Swim unfolds across the Hellespont on Turkey's national ‘Victory Day’ in Canakkale. It’s the stuff of swimmer’s dreams. You’ll join a pod of over 700 locals swimmers as the Dardanelles, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, is closed just for this event. The swim was inspired by a tragic Greek myth in which Leander crossed these waters to visit his lover, Hero, as well as the subsequent crossing by the poet Lord Byron, in 1810. It’s a rite of passage for open water swimmers around the world – so, don your goggles and get ready for a sunlit 4.5 km cross-continental swim from Europe to Asia. It’s also an extra special one for us, being the swim that inspired our founder, Simon Murie, to start SwimTrek in 2003.
- Compete in a historic swim following the strokes of Leander and Lord Byron.
- Explore the nearby historical sites of Anzac Cove and the ruins of Troy.
- Enjoy the post-race Turkish festivities and a celebratory dinner with your fellow swimmers.
Race Across the Bosphorus
Swimmers flock from around the world to take part in the famous Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim, in the heart of Istanbul. Huge ships are brought to a standstill as 2,400 open water swimmers unleash themselves upon the clear waters, representing flags from all the far-flung corners of the globe. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in a rare privilege and a truly memorable swim. Remember to enjoy the build-up in the dynamic Bosphorus race village and take some time to discover the the immense history and culture on offer in Istanbul. The event keeps getting bigger and bigger, so you can rest assured swimmers will keep the Bosphorus waters bubbling for years to come.
- Experience a cross-continental swim from Asia to Europe along the world-famous Bosphorus channel.
- Join 2,400 like-minded swimmers from around the world in an experience like no other.
- Take in the post and pre-race atmosphere in a melting pot of culture and history.
Simon Murie: Founder’s Note
Turkey is where the idea of SwimTrek was born! After having spent a week getting the necessary permissions from local and military authorities to swim from Europe to Asia across the fabled Hellespont, located in modern day Turkey, the swim itself took me just over an hour. This imbalance of effort versus reward made me think that there must be other swimmers out there who wanted to do similarly outstanding swims but did not want to spend copious amounts of time in organising it all. Hence back in 2003 SwimTrek was created.
Still to this day Turkey is definitely one of my favourite places to visit as the warmth of the people is only matched by the warmth of the waters that surround the land. Whether its swimming over a sunken Lycian city, swimming from a Greek island to the Turkish mainland or crossing the world famous Bosphorus in central Istanbul, this country is something that shouldn’t be missed by any open water swimmer.
Head now to our full list of Turkish swim holidays to find more unique SwimTrek tours to this unforgettable destination.