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TRIP OVERVIEW

3 days
Races & Event
6km/day
Moderate

Trip Dates

2024
23 Aug - 25 Aug
Available
23 Aug - 25 Aug
1 Space
2025

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Tour Highlights

  • Take part in the world-famous Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim at the heart of Istanbul

  • Swim from Asia to Europe as one of the world's busiest shipping lanes closes for this once-a-year event

  • Join open water swimmers from around the world and soak up lively Bosphorus race village

  • Discover the history and culture of the fascinating city of Istanbul

The iconic Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim is back, bigger and better than ever. Complete an unforgettable crossing from Asia to Europe as the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul comes to a standstill for this annual event. Join more than 2,400 competitors from across the globe as swimmers take over the Bosphorus waters and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world is temporarily closed to traffic.


Who Is This Trip For?

The Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim is a significant open water swim and conditions during the race may be challenging. A good experience of swimming in all sea conditions is essential and you should have relevant open water knowledge to be confident if such conditions do arise. Please be aware that this race also involves a mass start, but due to the large number of participants, it is possible to take your time and wait for a quieter period to enter the water.

This trip is only available to be booked through SwimTrek as a complete package (including accommodation). If you choose not to join as a swimmer, there is the opportunity to join as a supporter. There are a limited number of supporters tickets available which include shared accommodation with a race participant and all SwimTrek transfers.

NOTE: Turkish passport holders are unable to register for this event through SwimTrek and must apply via the Turkish Olympic Committee directly.

Two Iconic Swim Events in One

In 2024 the date of the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim enables you to extend by one night in Istanbul and then immediately join our Hellespont Week Tour giving you two iconic events plus escorted tours of Istanbul, Gallipoli and Troy in one tour package.

What's Included?

  • Entry into the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim Race
  • Two nights' accommodation
  • Two breakfasts
  • Dinner Cruise – Race Course Familiarisation
  • Transfers to and from race registration and boat tour the day before the event
  • Transfers to and from the race village before and after the event
  • SwimTrek Representatives to assist in ensuring everything runs smoothly
  • ABTOT Financial Protection

What's Not Included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Lunches and evening meals (excluding the evening of the Dinner Cruise)

What's Included For Supporters?

  • Two nights' accommodation with a race participant
  • Two breakfasts
  • Dinner Cruise – Race Course Familiarisation
  • Transfers to and from the race village before and after the event
  • ABTOT Financial Protection


Daily Itineraries

Please note that the above itinerary is subject to change during the course of your trip.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Istanbul, Turkey

Start Time: 14:00 2024 on Day 1

Finish Point: Istanbul, Turkey

Finish Time: 13:00 2024 on Day 3

Day 1

Date Notes
Friday Hotel check-in
Friday Early race registration opens
Friday Dinner Cruise – Race Course Familiarisation

After checking in to your hotel, you’ll join our transfer down to the Bosphorus for our Dinner Cruise. Whilst the light is good we head upstream for a Race Course Familiarisation, learning the importance of which route to follow during the swim. You will then have the chance to meet up with your SwimTrek guides and fellow swimmers for a drink, dinner and informal catch-up to kick off your trip.

To avoid long waiting times at race registration tomorrow, we would highly recommend taking advantage of Early Race Registration and registering today, for those arriving early and who have free time.

Day 2

Date Notes
Saturday Transfer from hotel to race registration
Saturday Race registration – Compulsory (unless registered earlier)
Saturday Return transfer to hotel

In the morning we head to the race village to complete local registration. Please note that the race registration is compulsory. Failure to attend this will mean you will be unable to enter the swim. During race registration, all competitors will be given their swim hats, badges and timing chips in preparation for the swim. Jewellery and watches, of any kind, are also strictly prohibited during the race.

In the afternoon, you will have the time to relax in preparation for the following day's race or take this opportunity to book an optional sightseeing tour of Istanbul.

Day 3 - Race Day

Date Notes
Sunday Hotel check-out
Sunday Transfer from Hotel to Kurucesme Cemil Topuzlu Park
Sunday Bosphorus Swim
Sunday Awards Ceremony
Sunday Return transfer to hotel

After an early breakfast and check-out from our hotels, it’s time for the main event! At 08:00, all swimmers meet at Kurucesme Cemil Topuzlu Park ready to board the ferries that take us north to the race start point. The race starts at around 10:00 and we swim down the 6½km course, taking in the sights of the city of Istanbul while having the swim of a lifetime!

The race and awards ceremony is expected to be over by 13:00, giving us time to catch an evening flight or stay on to enjoy the hospitality of Istanbul.

Accommodation

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Divan Istanbul City

Centrally located in the centre of Istanbul’s modern business district, Divan Istanbul City combines clean, modern style with a functionally elegant approach to accommodation. The 4-star hotel in Istanbul offers travellers friendly and efficient service and outstanding value for money.

Barbarous point small
Point Hotel Barbaros

The Point Hotel Barbaros, the first 5 star Art-Tech hotel of Turkey, is located between Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa Boulvard and Esentepe. In addition to the different artworks in each room, 265 contemporary works of art, including unique sculptures, installations, video art pieces, paintings and photographs, are displayed all around the hotel.

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Renaissance Istanbul Bosphorus Hotel

Offering stunning views of the Bosphorus, the magnificent Renaissance Istanbul Bosphorus Hotel is located on the European side of Istanbul, in Besiktas. The rooms are spacious and well equipped. There is a restaurant, a bar and a bistro in the hotel.

Location Summary

Istanbul

Istanbul is a city of contrasts with an enchanting blend of Eastern and Western culture giving this vibrant and modern city a truly unique identity.

As Byzantium, Constantinople and finally, Istanbul, it has been the capital of three empires, each leaving their mark in the form of stunning palaces, castles, mosques, churches and monuments. Set in a beautiful location surrounded by the waters of the narrow strait of the Bosphorus and the serene sea of Marmara, Istanbul is uniquely European and authentically Asian at the same time.

Bosphorus

The Bosphorus is a 30 km strait which divides Istanbul and joins the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea. The width of the strait varies from 500 m - 3 km and its depth from 50 - 120 m. As one of the busiest waterways in the world, the Bosphorus sees hundreds of passenger and commercial vessels travel across and along it every day.

The name Bosphorus comes from Greek legend: Zeus had an affair with a beautiful woman named lo. When Hera, his wife, discovered his infidelity, she turned Io into a cow and created a horsefly to sting her. Io jumped clear across the strait. Thus, ‘bous’ (cow) + ‘poros’ (crossing-place) = Bosphorus (Crossing place of the cow).

Special Booking Terms

A 40% deposit is required for this event. We can only guarantee your place upon successful registration with the organising body. The required documents will be emailed to you when you have secured a place in the swim. The deposit payment will be refunded back to you if you are unsuccessful.

Bosphorus Ballot

Competition for places on this iconic swim is stronger than ever, so as done in previous years, a ballot system will be running to give as many people as possible a fair opportunity to secure a spot. The best way to secure one of the limited number of places in this heavily oversubscribed international event is to enter the SwimTrek Bosphorus Ballot. The Bosphorus ballot is a system whereby all swimmers who book to take part in the Bosphorus event, via SwimTrek, will be placed into a draw for a chance to be allocated one of the limited available places in the race.

Please note that entering the ballot does not guarantee your place in the Bosphorus swim.

How Does It Work?

  • To enter the ballot, make a booking on one of the available Bosphorus packages for all guests that would like to take part in the swim event.

  • Once you’ve made your booking, you must complete the required profile information in your SwimTrek account within 48 hours. Without this information, we will be unable to enter you into the ballot and your booking may be cancelled. To complete the required profile information, log in to your SwimTrek account and fill out the ‘Personal Details, ‘Travel Details’ and ‘Health Details’ and ‘My Contact Details’ sections for all swimmers on your booking. Please ensure the full name matches the name on your passport. If you need help to complete the required profile information, please contact the SwimTrek office.

  • The ballot will close on 28 December 23:59 (GMT).

  • All guests who enter SwimTrek's Bosphorus ballot will be notified about whether they have been successful in obtaining a place in the Bosphorus event between 09 January and 31 March.

  • Once we’ve let you know that you’ve been successful in the ballot, we will send you your official race application form via email. You’ll then need to complete the paperwork (including the swim coach sign off and your declaration from a medical practitioner) and send this back to SwimTrek within six weeks. Please read the 'Important Information' section below for more details before entering.

  • Once you return your application form to us, we’ll check to make sure that it has been completed correctly. We’ll then send you an email to confirm that we have received your application and it will be submitted for the event, so that you can begin making plans for your trip to Turkey.

Required Profile Information

Once you’ve made your booking, you must complete the required profile information in your SwimTrek account within 48 hours. Without this information, we will be unable to enter you into the ballot and your booking may be cancelled.

To complete the required profile information, log in to your SwimTrek account and fill out the ‘Personal Details’, ‘Travel Details’ and ‘Health Details’ sections for all swimmers on the booking (required information will be highlighted in red). If you need help to complete the required profile information, please contact the SwimTrek office.

IMPORTANT: Please note that the first name and surname on your SwimTrek account must match those in your passport in order to take part in the Bosphorus event. If these names do not match, you may not be able to complete the official race registration in Istanbul prior to the event.

Race Application Form and Medical Sign-Off

If you are successful in the Bosphorus ballot, we will send you your official race application form which you’ll need to complete and send back to us within six weeks, otherwise we will not be able to confirm your entry into the event and your deposit may be forfeit.

As part of your application form, you will need to have a medical examination by a certified medical practitioner.

Please Note: There will likely be a fee for doctor sign off and this may need to be done privately, as not all medical practitioners are able to sign off a declaration. It is your responsibility to book and pay for your medical appointment with sufficient time to complete your form and return it to us before the agreed deadline.

Once you return your application form to us, we’ll check to make sure that it has been completed correctly. We’ll then send you an email to confirm that we have received your application and it will be submitted for the event, so that you can begin making plans for your trip to Turkey.

The following forms and other documents will need to be returned to SwimTrek:

  • 1 x signed official race medical form (signed by a medical practitioner)
  • 1 x signed official race ‘Fit for participation’ form (signed by a certified swim coach)
  • 1 x passport style photo taken within the last six months
  • 1 x copy of the photo page of your passport (with at least six months validity)
  • 1 x copy of your swimming coach’s qualification certificate

IMPORTANT: A qualified swim coach will be required to sign off your registration form in order to confirm that you are ‘Fit for participation’ in the Bosphorus swim. A copy of this coach’s qualification (e.g. certificate from national governing body) will also need to be submitted with your official paperwork in order to register for the event. If you do not have a swim coach, it is your responsibility to enquire with local pools or swimming clubs in order to find a suitable person to assist with this process.

NOTE: All of the above information is required by the Turkish Olympic Committee and no exceptions can be made.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I’m successful in the ballot, does that mean that my place in the event is guaranteed?

Almost. Once we’ve let you know that you’ve been successful in the ballot you still need to complete the steps set out in the 'How Does It Work?' section above. If we do not receive the paperwork in good time the race organiser will cancel your entry.

When should I book my flights and confirm other travel plans?

IMPORTANT: Please do not book any flights or make other travel plans before you receive an email from SwimTrek to confirm that you have been successful in the ballot.

What happens if I’m unsuccessful in the ballot?

If you are unsuccessful in the ballot, we will notify you as soon as possible. Your full deposit amount will then be refunded to your original payment method within seven working days.

What happens if I’m successful in the ballot but then change my mind about taking part in the event? Can I transfer my place in the event to someone else or get a refund?

Unfortunately, once you have been notified that you’ve been successful in the ballot, your place in the event is non-transferrable and your deposit is non-refundable. For further information about our refund policy, please refer to our Terms and Conditions.

What if I’m travelling as part of a group?

While every effort will be made to secure places in the event for all members of your group, we cannot guarantee that this will be possible.

All members of the group who are successful in the ballot will be notified by the end of February. Once confirmed, their place in the event will be non-transferrable and their deposit will be non-refundable.

If a member of your group is not successful in the ballot their deposit will be refunded within seven working days of notification. If unsuccessful, they will not be able to swim in the event this year, but they will still have the opportunity to join the group, as a supporter. Please refer to the ‘Practical Information’ section for more information on our Supporters Package.

Where can I find out more about the required profile information that I’ll need to provide to enter the ballot and the application form that I’ll need to complete if I’m successful in the ballot?

For further information about the required profile information and the official Bosphorus application form, please refer to the ‘Important Information’ section.

Trip Grading

Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim

The world’s most concentrated shipping lane is closed to all traffic as we participate in this annual race. You can either race to win it or just go along at your own pace. We have given this trip a ‘Moderate’ grading. Most swimmers comfortable in the open water will be able to take part and enjoy one of these trips.

Group Size and Boat Support

The Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim is a mass start event. Boat support on this trip includes a flotilla of small boats arranged by the event organiser. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Swimming Conditions

An interesting feature of the Bosphorus strait is its curious water flow. On the surface, the Bosphorus usually flows from the Black Sea towards the Sea of Marmara (carrying our Bosphorus swimmers along with it). However, at greater depths, the current flows in the opposite direction, carrying huge volumes of water back towards the Black Sea. You should note that conditions in this large body of water may become more challenging. This race involves a mass start, despite the large number of participants it is possible to take your time and wait for a quieter period to enter the water.

Swimming in the sea is a fantastic experience, however you should be aware that certain marine life such as sea lice, jellyfish and sea urchins could be present during the swim. If you suffer from anaphylaxis, please consult the office prior to booking.

Race Distance

Swim Distance
Bosphorus 6½ km (the swim is current-assisted, which is equivalent to approximately 4 km

Race Time Limit

There is a time limit of two hours to complete the course. The Turkish Coast Guard will remove swimmers from the water if they do not finish the crossing within this time.

Temperatures

Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
August 22-26˚C / 72-79˚F 28-32˚C / 82-90˚F

*Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, the event organisers rely on decent weather conditions in order to carry out the swim. In the event of bad weather and the swim being cancelled, there are no reserve/alternative times or days available.

Race Event Information

Race Organisers

Please be aware that whilst SwimTrek organise the tour part of your package, the Turkish Olympic Committee are the event organisers and are fully responsible for the entry procedures as well as race safety decisions and logistics.

Extra Activities

If you would like to add a guided tour of historic Istanbul or an evening with Whirling Dervishes for information on prices and availability, contact our partners in Turkey on info@swiminturkey.com. These activities are booked and paid for directly with our Turkey partners Wilusa Tur and do not form part of your SwimTrek contract.

Supporters Package

There are a limited number of supporter’s packages available which include shared accommodation with a race participant. Please note that, on the day of the event, supporters will be at the finish line and will not be able to see the start of the race live, however, several big screens at the finish point will broadcast the race start for supporters to see.

Race Equipment

Swimmers are not allowed to wear wetsuits during the crossing. Participants are not permitted to wear smart watches or smart bands during the race. Compulsory swim hats will be given out on the day of the race by the event organisers.

NOTE: Due to the nature of the event and the mild water temperature, wetsuits are not allowed. Jewellery and watches, of any kind, are also strictly prohibited during the race. At registration you will receive an official Swim Cap which must be worn during the Swim along with the timing chip ankle band.

Equipment Checklist

For your basic, essential packing list, please see our Packing List page on the website. For all additional location specific items please see the table below

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x2) Waterproof Sun Cream
Swimming Goggles (x 2)* Towel
Sun Hat and Sunglasses Small Daypack

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

Getting There

Istanbul is a popular travel destination and there are a wide range of scheduled flights operating to the city’s two main airports, Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, from all around the world.

As SwimTrekkers come from all over the world, and join our swimming holidays in numerous destinations, we don't currently offer flights as part of our SwimTrek packages. We do however want to do as much as we can to ensure that our guests get the best deals when travelling to one of our trips so check out SwimTrek's tips to help you get the best deals for your flights page on the website.

Flights to Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) Airport

Istanbul’s new airport, ‘Istanbul Airport’ replaced Istanbul Atatürk Airport as the city’s International Airport. Istanbul Airport is located north of the now permanently closed Atatürk Airport, on the European side.

Shared & Private Transfer from Istanbul Airport to Hotel

If you would like to book a private transfer from Istanbul Airport to your hotel, or to check availability of shared transfers, this can be arranged via our partners in Turkey on info@swiminturkey.com

Taxi from Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Hotel

Taxis are readily available from both Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Istanbul city centre for approximately €50 (600TRY - 1000TRY).

Public Transport from Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Hotel

The cheapest way to get from both airports into the centre of Istanbul is by using public transport, although this can be a more complicated option.

From Istanbul Airport, central Istanbul is currently only reachable by public transport through IETT buses or HAVAIST shuttles.

The city has a well-renowned metro and tram system, However, the new metro line (M11) from Istanbul Airport to Levent in central Istanbul, is currently under construction. It may be completed in early 2023 and should provide much shorter journey times.

SwimTrek Transfers

SwimTrek will provide transfers between your accommodation and the race village for registration and the boat tour, as well as to and from the race meeting point on Race Day. 

Accommodation

Your SwimTrek package includes two nights’ accommodation at one of the below hotels which are located around the Sisli area of Istanbul. Our accommodation is based on twin-share rooms with en suite facilities. There are a limited number of single supplement rooms which can be reserved during the booking process, subject to availability.

Hotel Website
3-Star Divan City Istanbul www.divan.com.tr/divan-istanbul-city/en
4-Star Point Hotel Barbaros https://www.barbaros.pointhotel.com/
5-Star Renaissance Istanbul Bosphorus Hotel www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/istbo-renaissance-istanbul-polat-bosphorus-hotel

Please note, although the official check-out time at the hotel will be around 12:00, it is important to check-out prior to leaving for the race on Race Day as you will not arrive back at the hotel until after the race at about 13:00.

Pre/Post Trip Accommodation and Trip Extension Options

If you would like to extend your stay in Istanbul and need to book additional nights’ accommodation before or after your trip, contact our partners in Turkey on info@swiminturkey.com or get in touch with the hotels directly using the links above. Please note that when booking extra nights, it may not be possible to reserve the same room and you may be required to check out and check in to a different room before or after your SwimTrek trip.

Food and Drink

Breakfast is included in your package. Lunch and evening meals are at your own expense, which gives you a fantastic opportunity to explore and experience your choice of Istanbul’s street food, cafes and restaurants. On race day there is ‘fast food’ available in the Race Village at Kurucesme Cemil Topuzlu Park. Be prepared for the restaurants and cafes close to the park to be busy before and after the event.

For more information, please visit our Food and Drink page on the website

Travel Advice

For more information on any of the following sections please visit the Travel Advice page of our website.

Money, Extra Expenses and Tipping

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as dinners, drinks, entertainment, souvenirs, etc. The local currency in Turkey is Turkish Lira (TRY). Cash machines, bars and restaurants are plentiful in Istanbul city centre. Extra expenses not covered within your package price include your medical as part of the race entry and any City tours and airport transfers you require.

Responsible Travel

SwimTrek is conscious of the importance of protecting the world’s natural wonders. We are acutely aware of our responsibility to not only take care of the natural environments which we are lucky enough to explore, but also to educate our guests about the importance of conservation efforts and responsible tourism. It’s for this reason that we have worked so closely with our partners to ensure that our trips are conducted in the most responsible and sustainable way possible, working tirelessly to minimise the impact of our presence on local marine life and the natural habitat.

For more information, please visit our Responsible Travel page on the website.

Passports and Visas

Non-residents of Turkey require a full passport to enter the country, which must be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay.

UK and EU Citizens do not currently require a visa to enter Turkey and stay for a period of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand require a visa to enter Turkey. Most foreign nationals entering Turkey must purchase a visa before entering the country. It is important that you purchase your visa through the official website, www.evisa.gov.tr and avoid purchasing through third-party providers, as these can be considerably more expensive.

Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and it is important that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Travel Insurance

We consider comprehensive travel insurance to be essential, and we strongly recommend that you purchase insurance which includes, but is not limited to, cover for illness, accident, emergency repatriation, ambulance, air ambulance, helicopter rescue services, cancellation, lost luggage and delays. Your travel insurance should also cover you for open water swimming and any other activity listed in your trip itinerary (including races and competitions, where applicable). Please read your policy details carefully and remember to take them with you on your trip for your own reference.

For further information, please visit our Travel Insurance page on the website.

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to Turkey, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit www.travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip.

Please Note: It is your responsibility to arrange your medical appointment, in order to obtain sign off from your medical practitioner, as part of your application.

Internet Access, Electricity and Travel Plugs

Please note that, while Wi-Fi is available at all SwimTrek hotels. Extra roaming charges may apply for guests who choose to use a SIM card from their home country while they are in Turkey. Local SIM cards are available for purchase upon arrival at both major airports in Istanbul, as well as throughout the city.

For a useful source of information on the different electrical outlets, electrical plugs, and electric sockets, please visit www.worldstandards.eu.


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    Bee Bee K, Singapore - 2023
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  • Was delighted with my Bosphorus swim trip. SwimTrek organisation was excellent both before the trip and on the ground during our stay.

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