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Swimtrek swimming holidays turkey bosphorus swim city shot


3 days
Swim Races & Event

Tour Highlights

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

  • Swim from Asia to Europe as one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world is closed for this once-a-year event

  • Join open water swimmers from all over the planet for this truly memorable swimming experience

  • Enjoy the lively atmosphere and friendly nature of the dynamic Bosphorus race village

  • Soak up the history and culture of the fascinating city of Istanbul

The iconic Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim will be back in 2021, 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.

The 2021 entry and event dates are still to be confirmed. Join our Bosphorus 2021 mailing list to be the first to find out when this is announced.

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). Anyone who would like to take part in the race only must apply via the Turkish Olympic Committee directly. 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.

What's included?

  • Entry into the Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim Race
  • Two nights accommodation
  • Two breakfasts
  • Transfers to and from race registration and boat tour the day before the event
  • Guided boat tour of the official Bosphorus Race route the day before the event
  • Transfers to and from the race village before and after the event
  • A dedicated SwimTrek guide staying at your hotel to assist with transfers, questions and any other issues which may arise

What's not included?

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Lunches and evening meals

Related Trips

Final Trip Schedules

The below itinerary should be used as a guide only and a final trip schedule with confirmed timings for all events and activities will be forwarded to all guests prior to the start of the trip.

Day 1

After checking in to your hotel, you’ll have the chance to meet up with your SwimTrek guides and fellow swimmers in the evening for welcome drinks and an 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 have free time.

Day 2

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.

In the afternoon, we have the option to join the official boat tour of the race course, learning the importance of which route to follow during the swim. The boat tours are organised by the Turkish Olympic Committee and are open to both accredited swimmers and their family and friends.

After this you will have the option of taking some 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

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 will then 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 finish by 13:00, giving us time to catch an evening flight or stay on to enjoy the hospitality of Istanbul.

Important Information

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 ‘My Social Profile’, ‘My Travel Details’, ‘My Health Details’ and ‘My Contact Details’ sections (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.

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 GPs 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 the SwimTrek office:

  • 1 x original completed application form (Please note that the Turkish Olympic Committee require the original application form. Scanned or photocopied forms will not be accepted.)
  • 1 x original passport photo taken within the last six months
  • 1 x photocopy of the photo page of your passport (with at least six months validity)
  • 1 x photocopy 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. The only photocopies which are accepted are the copy of your passport and your coach’s qualification. All other documents, including your official application form, must be original.

Trip Schedule

Please note that the 2021 event date has not yet been confirmed.

Start Point: Istanbul, Turkey

Start Date: TBC

Finish Point: Istanbul, Turkey

Finish Date: TBC

Date Notes
Day 1 Hotel check-in
Early race registration opens
Welcome drinks
Day 2 Transfer from hotel to race registration
Race registration - Compulsory (unless registered earlier)
Boat tour of the race course
Return transfer to hotel
Optional sightseeing tour of Istanbul
Day 3 Hotel check-out
Transfer from hotel to Kuruçeşme Cemil Topuzlu Park
Bosphorus Swim
Awards ceremony
Return transfer to hotel

Trip Information

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costumes (x2) Waterproof Sun Cream
Swimming Goggles* (x2) Towel
Sunhat and Sunglasses Small Daypack

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

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. Compulsory swim hats and ankle bands with timing chips will be given out by the event organisers. You should bring a swim costume, goggles and towel.

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. You should note, however, that conditions during the race may be challenging. Therefore, we advise that you should have relevant open water experience and be confident if such conditions do arise.

Race Organisers

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

Swimming Distances

Swim Distance
Bosphorus 6½ km (Swim is current assisted, which is approximately equivalent to 4 km)

There is a time limit of two hours to complete the 6½ km course. The Turkish Coastguard will remove swimmers from the water if they do not finish the crossing within this time.

Water Flow

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.

Swimming Conditions

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 SwimTrek office prior to booking.


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

*Please note that temperatures are based on 2019 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.

SwimTrek Transfers

SwimTrek will provide transfers between your accommodation and the race village for registration and the boat tour on Day 2, as well as to and from the race meeting point on Day 3.

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.

While we have outlined various travel options below, they are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. We suggest that you use Skyscanner to search for alternative flight options for this trip.

Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your flights and other travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

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

To search for available flights into the two major airports in Istanbul, please visit Skyscanner.

Istanbul’s new airport, ‘Istanbul Airport’ replaced Istanbul Atatürk Airport as the city’s International Airport in 2019. Istanbul Airport is located north of the now permanently closed Atatürk Airport, on the European side.

Private Transfer from Istanbul Airport to Hotel

If you would like to book a private transfer from Istanbul to your hotel, this can be arranged via our partners in Turkey; Wilusa Travel.

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 €25 - €30 (160TRY - 200TRY).

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. For further information on public transport from both airports, please visit:

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 is due to be completed in 2020 and should provide much shorter journey times.

Practical Information


Your SwimTrek package includes two nights’ accommodation on Day 1 and Day 2 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
4-Star Divan City Istanbul
5-Star Point Hotel Barboros
5-Star Mercure Istanbul The Plaza Bosphorus

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 Day 3 due to the fact that 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, please either contact our partners at Wilusa Travel 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.

Supporters Package

There are a limited number of supporters tickets available which include shared accommodation with a race participant and all SwimTrek transfers. 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.

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.

In addition to the race and accommodation, those that would like to take advantage of a guided city tour of Istanbul can book this through our partners in Turkey (at an additional cost). Please visit Wilusa Travel for more information on prices and availability.

Please note that, while Wi-Fi is available at all SwimTrek hotels, as Turkey is not part of the European Union, extra roaming charges will apply for European 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.

Please Note: As an extra expense prior to your trip, it is your responsibility to book and pay for your medical appointment, in order to obtain sign off from your GP, as part of your application.

Passports and Visas

Turkey is not part of the European Union. Non-residents of Turkey require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Please note: As of 2nd March 2020, UK and EU Citizens no longer 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, and avoid purchasing through third-party providers, as these can be considerably more expensive.

Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and we advise that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Health Information and Recommended Vaccinations

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to Turkey, including all recommended and required vaccinations, refer to the Travel Health Pro website. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip.

Travel Plugs & Electricity

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

  • The Bosphorus swim exceeded my expectations. Truly impressed with Istanbul. Can’t wait to go back and do it again.

    Sean Paul B, UK - 2019
  • SwimTrek gave me the opportunity to push myself and experience something I never thought I was capable of . I’m still in awe of what we all achieved in the Bosphorus. Thank you for the life changing memories.

    Debra B, UK -2019
  • We jumped into the Bosphorus and immersed ourselves in a magnificent swim in a magnificent city; a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed.

    Nicola B, UK - 2019
  • Great opportunity to combine my passion of swimming, whilst exploring new destinations and countries, with like minded swimmers

    Sandra P, South Africa - 2018
  • Can't fault the trip at all. So many incredible people sharing a love for one sport, in an incredible location. Went away wanting more and feeling very inspired.

    Lucy S, UK - 2018
  • Thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Bosphorus Cross Continental Race with Swim Trek. It was an outstanding experience and I highly recommend it!

    Amy D, USA - 2018
  • It was one of the most iconic experiences of my 66 year old life and I would recommend to all those who enjoy swimming to give it a place on their bucket list.

    Duncan M, UK - 2017
  • Outstanding experience to swim in such an epic race. Would not have done it without SwimTrek.

    Keith E, UK - 2017
  • The Bosphorus Swim is a great event in a spectacular location in one of the world's most beautiful cities. Unbeatable

    Clinton L, UK - 2017
  • Great swim, great location, brilliant organisation and wonderful people.

    Nicola L, UK - 2017
  • It was an incredible weekend - a wonderful swim in an iconic location, with some really lovely people who will remain friends for years to come. Thanks SwimTrek for making it happen!

    Claire R, UK - 2017
  • My second Bosphorus Swim with Swimtrek was even more relaxed enjoyable than the first and I can highly recommend a repeat trip to all swimtrekkers.

    Holger H, Austria - 2017

Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim 2021

The dates for the 2021 Bosphorus swim hasn't been announced yet. Sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about 2021 entries.

If you're eager to take on another epic crossing swim in 2021 take a look at our Hellespont swim in Turkey.