Condé Nast Traveller - The experts... advice
May 2015

Question: I hear the traffic is dreadful in Istanbul. How would you recommend travelling across the city?

Answer: By front crawl. For a few hours every summer the Bosphorus is off-limits to shipping and the annual Cross-Continental Swim begins. Thousands take the plunge, from Turks and tourists to international pro teams, who can be seen, seconds before the whistle blows, shaving their bodies to decrease drag. It may sound like a slog at 6.5km, but it is downstream and you’re swept along by the swift current between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. This ain’t no fashion parade: leave the Heidi Klein at home and slip into a Speedo one-piece (it’s not cold enough for a wetsuit). The start is a bit of a bun-fight so forget about pacing yourself and go full throttle until you escape the fray. Pause midstream to tread water and gaze at Istanbul's domes, minarets and grand palaces. Don’t leave it too late to turn towards the finishing marker on the western bank; the current can be so quick here that you’re swept past the post and there’s no turning back. If you’re struggling, wave your swimming cap in the air to be plucked out by brawny boys in rescue boats. It’s a party at the finish line, with great camaraderie, so catch your breath and then celebrate. The successful can brag that they've swum from Asia to Europe -- and beaten the traffic!