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Birkenstock à Tours

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Birkenstock. C’est en 1774 que Johann Birkenstock a fondé la célèbre enseigne de chaussures allemande, qui s’est développée durant le siècle d’après. En 1896, Konrad Birkenstock a conçu la première chaussure qui comporte une semelle intérieure en cuir pour soutenir le pied (d’abord orthopédique puis vendue aux professionnels de la santé). C'est cette innovation qui rend la marque célèbre pour son fameux confort et sa qualité légendaire. C’est l’une des plus anciennes marques de chaussures, qui convient à toutes les femmes. La marque est largement populaire auprès des jeunes américains dans les années 1970, et elle connaît un nouveau succès dans les années 1990 avec l'arrivée de nouveaux modèles et d’une variété de couleurs. Birkenstock est devenu tendance sur les podiums de la mode féminine aussi bien que dans les rues de nos villes l’été. Que vous soyez adeptes d’une large bande, de deux bandes fines ou d’un fermoir qui enveloppe votre cheville, vous trouverez votre bonheur.

Tours. Ville très dynamique pour le shopping, Tours est définitivement une ville commerçante. La ville concentre une grande quantité de grandes enseignes françaises et internationales tout au long de l’artère de la Rue Nationale, et nombre de charmantes petites boutiques en centre-ville. Tout autour de la rue de la Scierie du côté Est, il y a des magasins chic à ne pas manquer. Dans la rue des Halles, côté Ouest, on retrouve plutôt des grandes marques (Lacoste, The Kooples, Eden Park).

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I visited Birkenstock's fashion-forward SoHo store and was impressed by the range of styles, including sneakers, heels, and boots

  • Birkenstock debuted on the New York Stock Exchange this month.
  • The German shoe brand's IPO missed the mark, but analysts say the company has upside.
  • I visited the Birkenstock store in Soho to see how the company is approaching its retail footprint.

Insider Today

Earlier this month, Birkenstock's highly-anticipated IPO took an unexpected turn.

Initially the German shoe brand expected shares to reach $46 at an estimated $8 billion valuation, but shares traded at just $41, making it one of the worst debuts for a billion-dollar company in a decade.

Many were surprised by the lackluster debut because the company is all about consistency, dependability, and function. In other words, it's as safe a bet as fashion brands come. In its initial filing, the company reported $1.3 billion in 2022 revenue. The company also said that 90% of customers come through unpaid channels, such as word-of-mouth, and the average customer owns three pairs of Birkenstocks.

For nearly 250 years, craftsmanship and comfort have been the cornerstones of Birkenstock's success. Fads come and go, but Birkenstock found a market for shoes people can grow old with. If you need proof that the shoe can weather a lifetime of downturns, just take a look at Steve Job's worn-but-still-wearable Birks that sold at auction for $200,000.

Meanwhile, it doesn't seem Birkenstock is anywhere on GenZ's radar — an indication that perhaps the brand's generational reach is limited to the 30-and-above crowd. In a recent report by investment bank Piper Sandler that ranked the top brands among American teens , Birkenstock was nowhere to be found. In its initial filing, Birkenstock reported that 12% of its consumer base is Gen Z, while 31% is millennial, and 27% is Gen X.

But capturing the current youth culture isn't the only way to paint a bright future. Analysts say Birkenstock's outlook ultimately comes down to the macroeconomic picture. Although it isn't a designer brand, Birkenstock falls in the luxury category with prices ranging from $50 to $475. While that's on the lower-end compared to a pair of $890 Gucci loafers, it could still be a steep price for consumers who are tightening their discretionary spending.

A heritage brand like Birkenstock sits well among footwear companies because customers are more likely to spend on brands they trust when their spending springs back, Jessica Ramirez of Jane Hali & Associates told Bloomberg .

I visited Birkenstock's Soho store to see how the company is positioning its retail locations.

Birkenstock has a store in Soho

birkenstock a tours

The Birkenstock store is located at 120 Spring Street in the bustling, downtown shopping neighborhood of Soho.

The store is nestled between a few other shoe stores

birkenstock a tours

Stuart Weitzman was right next door and Adidas was across the street.

Inside, the store had lots of geometric shelves and intriguing displays.

birkenstock a tours

Since shoes don't take up as much space as clothing, I could tell the merchandising team used the geometric build outs and shelves to fill it out and make the store more intriguing than your typical shoe racks.

The store also used materials like cork and wool as a nod to the materials in its shoes

birkenstock a tours

Some of the shelves and displays were made out of cork.

The center of the store celebrated the company's history

birkenstock a tours

Above a bench where customers tried on shoes, there hung framed advertisements and mementos of Birkenstock's history.

One box displayed a vintage pair of Birkenstocks

birkenstock a tours

These strappy suede sandals were from 1977.

It was clear that Birkenstock has evolved a lot since then.

birkenstock a tours

This pair in particular shows how the brand has catered to a more fashion-forward consumer, without sacrificing the comfort at Birkenstock's core. The thick straps, forest green suede, and large gold buckles are a more contemporary approach to the brand's classic sandals.

While some shoes were on the uglier side...

birkenstock a tours

This shoe is like a close-heel version of the Boston clog and has shearling inside.

The brand has expanded its styles with new silhouettes and fun materials

birkenstock a tours

Birkenstock has expanded its offerings to the fashion set by creating variations of its classic styles with materials like shearling.

Towards the back of the store, there are more walls of shoes and an area to try them on

birkenstock a tours

The back area was focused on women's and children's styles.

Many of the shoes were displayed in box structures with direct lighting

birkenstock a tours

These structures made the shoes feel like they were on display in a gallery — a clear effort to position Birkenstock's products as a luxury item that is meant to be visually appreciated just as much as it's worn.

Classic styles were displayed on more traditional shelves

birkenstock a tours

While the more trendy styles were placed at the front and middle of the store, the classic styles and older collections were in the back. Seeing that the store is in the fashionable neighborhood of Soho, it makes sense that the brand would place the newest and flashiest styles where they'll be seen first.

There was a corner for children's shoes

birkenstock a tours

The children's shoes were easy to miss because they were placed on a small shelving unit in a corner where the lighting was dim.

More trendy styles had a display on the back wall

birkenstock a tours

This display broke up the shelves and highlighted more styles that have platforms, shearling, and large buckles.

I was fond of these platform sandals

birkenstock a tours

I liked how Birkenstock added a trendy item — a thick, white contrast platform — to one of its classic styles. The Arizona Chunky felt like a fresh update, but didn't take away from the brand's signature design.

Meanwhile, I didn't quite understand the more — daring — styles.

birkenstock a tours

I laughed at these shearling-covered sandals because they looked like rabbit feet. They were so fluffy, I could barely see the gold buckles. I imagined how quickly they would turn grey or brown wearing them on the city streets. But perhaps they'd make a comfy house slipper.

I was surprised to find how many non-sandal shoes the brand carries, like this suede sneaker.

birkenstock a tours

A sales associate told me the sneaker is made with a suede corduroy. I also noticed it has a sliver of cork visible in the back — a nod to Birkenstock's cork soles.

And this combat-style boot

birkenstock a tours

I had always thought of the brand as a maker of sandals and clogs, so I did not expect Birkenstock to have boots.

I also didn't realize Birkenstock made heels

birkenstock a tours

Once again, I was surprised to find a wide range of wedge-heel shoes. When I asked a sales associate what the word "papillio" meant, she told me that's what Birkenstock calls it's range of heels for women. Papillio includes both the platform and wedge shoes.

Another heel stood out to me

birkenstock a tours

To me, this shoe was what the Boston clog would look like with a wedge-heel and a slightly more sophisticated buckle.

A table at the front of the store displayed a limited-edition collection

birkenstock a tours

These shoes were made in collaboration with the luxury fabric brand Tekla. Each pair is made with Cazador suede and shearling shearling and cost between $475 and $495.

A foot imprint on the wall led to the stairs to the mens section

birkenstock a tours

The foot imprint was modeled after Birkenstock's patented sole.

I made my way to the second level

birkenstock a tours

A floor-to-ceiling mirror covered the wall against the staircase.

Upstairs, the mens section felt like its own nook

birkenstock a tours

The second floor was dedicated to mens' shoes.

Bookshelves, furniture, and a screen gave the area a living-room vibe

birkenstock a tours

This floor had a little more space to walk around than the first level, but it also wasn't as busy.

Lanterns hang from the high ceilings

birkenstock a tours

Cube lanterns and greenery made use of the high ceilings.

The men's section also had sneakers

birkenstock a tours

Similar to the pair I saw on the first floor, this slip-on sneaker comes in a mustard yellow suede corduroy and has the exposed cork in the back of the sole.

Birkenstock even has its own take on the Croc

birkenstock a tours

The Super-Birk is a simple clog made from polyurethane. It seems to be the brand's take on a Croc, which have been another popular "ugly" shoe .

I left the store feeling enlightened

birkenstock a tours

Birkenstock's Soho store feels like a place of discovery, where people who are curious about the brand, but maybe have never purchased a pair, can really get a sense of its offerings.

I've never been inside a Birkenstock store before — the one pair I own, I purchased online. When you're shopping online, you often scroll or search past so many products, it's easy to miss everything a brand has to offer.

birkenstock a tours

  • Main content

Travel Fashion Girl

Birkenstocks for Travel: 9 Picks Your Feet Will Love

Comfortable Shoes , Travel Shoes

birkenstocks-for-travel

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Birkenstock sandals have been the center of attention recently, with women discussing whether or not they are back in style and if they are actually a fashionable sandal to wear when traveling. Find out what our readers said about Birkenstocks for travel!

Birkenstocks for Travel

Written By: Annie Jarvis

Table Of Contents

Although Birkenstocks have dipped in and out of fashion over the years, they are still a very popular shoe to add to your travel capsule wardrobe .

Overall, they are comfortable choices for walking, exploring, and even dressing up as the range of Birkenstocks have changed from comfort wear to some dressier options that still feel good for the feet! 

Check out these top recommended Birkenstocks that are travel-friendly!

birkenstocks-for-travel

Shop: Amazon

Editor’s Top Pick: Daloa Sandal

Hoping to find comfortable sandals, editor-in-chief Alex ordered these Birkenstocks, the Daloa , since she’s previously had luck with the narrow sizing in the Birko-Flor style . 

These beauties have all the ingredients of a comfy sandal, with a cushioned footbed and an EVA outsole. 

A traveler says, ”This is my first pair of Birkenstocks. I never wanted to spend the money. But, as I get older, have flat feet, bad knees, and wear orthotics, I decided to try something better than flip flops and flat-as-a-board sandals. As soon as I put them on, I knew they were keepers. The arch support is great, it has a slimmer style than most Birks making them more stylish. They feel good enough to wear as a house shoe. No sore or rough spots anywhere.”

How Alex wears them:

birkenstocks-for-travel

BISHUIGE T-Shirt Dress in Blue and Birkenstock Daloa Sandals

If you’re wondering about this cozy dress , Alex wanted to refresh her clothes and wanted something breezy for her move back to Playa del Carmen . To get more information about this dress, take a look at her entire spring/summer haul here !

birkenstocks-for-travel

Shop: Amazon | REI

Editor’s Second Pick: Gizeh Thong Sandal

Editor-in-chief Alex is a big fan of thong sandals and used to wear the Birko-Flor Gizeh Birkenstocks for travel throughout Southeast Asia . They are convenient to take on and off when visiting temples.

So, despite loving her newest find, the Daloa , we’re sneaking in this one because it’s an old favorite for walking. One reviewer echoes this, “ I love these shoes, I buy them over and over, year after year. I have owned at least 10 pairs. They are a lifesaver for my plantar fasciitis . They have strong arch support. The shoes are well made, I wear them almost every day.”

birkenstocks-for-travel

Shop: Amazon | Nordstrom |  REI

Mayari Sandals

The lovely Birkenstock Mayari sandals have oiled leather, signature arch support, and a toe grip so they won’t slip off. Comes in numerous colors so you’d surely find the right ones for you! 

One happy traveler says, “ I waited to review this so I had time to break them in. Those first few days I was skeptical of the sandals that I heard so many high reviews of. Take the time to break them in! Now after having them for a month or so, these are super comfortable! We have done some walking tours on our travels this summer—walking five hours a day and I’ve been wearing these sandals almost daily.”

birkenstocks-for-travel

Bali Oiled Leather Sandal

For another strappy choice, the Birkenstock Bali sandal has sleek touches with the same corkbed comfort. This one is available in both regular and narrow sizes.

In fact, a narrow shoe wearer says, “ Love these so much. Fit true to size, I’m always happy to find the narrow base when I can.”

birkenstocks-for-travel

Yao Leather Slide Sandal

For more Birko-Flor love, these Birkenstock slide sandals will stay put due to the adjustable buckle straps that crisscross for a fun design. Throw in the cushioned cork footbed and arch support that encourages proper foot alignment; this may be the perfect summer travel sandal!

One review says, “ I love these Birks! The fit is perfect and comfortable. Love the strap design on these so much. Cannot wait to pair them with summer outfits.”

The pictured flower pattern evokes lazy summer days, you can choose from a bunch of other colors and it comes in regular or narrow sizes, so ‘go to town’!

birkenstocks-for-travel

Shop: Amazon | Zappos

Madrid Sandals

A nice simple choice, the Birkenstock Madrid slides are great for casual summer outfits while traveling. These also make good airport shoes as they’re easy to take on/off. The insole is made of sturdy leather, and the cork footbed and EVA sole offer support.

This reviewer is certainly content, “ The quality of the patent leather is amazing! They’re super comfortable and offer great support!” This is available in regular and narrow sizes, and has several shades, from red to gold metallic!

birkenstocks-for-travel

Gizeh Essentials EVA Sandals

When you’re traveling, you may need beach shoes that could double as shower shoes. Birkenstock has a plastic version of many of their popular shoes that can easily serve these functions. The one pictured is the Gizeh sandal , but you can also grab the Arizona EVA , and Madrid EVA in the same material.

One frequent walker is happy with these, “ This is the most comfortable shoe I’ve ever worn, no joke. I have terrible heel pain when I wear anything other than Birkenstocks, and wanted something more water-resistant than my leather and cork Mayaris for the summer. I actually find the Gizeh EVA more comfortable than the traditional cork! All of the arch support is there, plus the deep heel cup.”

birkenstocks-for-travel

Papillio Samira Wedge – Narrow Sizes Only

For a dressy option, the Birkenstock Samira wedges have a slight heel and come in gorgeous shades, such as mud green or an adorable rose nubuck. Just note that these ones are for ladies who need narrow sizes.

You can wear these for a night on the town or light sightseeing as they still have the company’s comfort cork footbed as support. Pair with a maxi dress, or a shorter summer dress. 

In fact, these cuties defy the typical reputation of Birkenstock, as this reviewer says, “ I bought these right before our trip to Mexico. These do not look like old lady shoes with the wedge heel. They really don’t look like your typical Birkenstocks. I didn’t even have time to break them in before my trip. The first time I wore them they were so comfortable and we walked a lot that day. I absolutely love them!”

birkenstocks-for-travel

Namica Mule

Talk about easy to wear! The Birkenstock Namica mule has gorgeous, soft leather in some chic colors (we love this metallic black), and even though it’s a wedge the footbed molds to the foot, and the heel cup is deep, so you will feel balanced as you walk. These are available in regular and narrow sizes.

These are ideal for more formal occasions during a trip or for a business conference setting. “I cannot believe how much I love these! I’m an avid Birkenstock wearer due to plantar fasciitis and the need for true arch support. I’ve been looking for a style that was more dressy and these are perfect,” gushes one wearer.

Birkenstocks Product Comparison Chart

birkenstocks-for-travel

  Birkenstock  Arizona Sandal

Are Birkenstocks Good for Walking?

Travel Fashion Girl recently conducted a survey asking women which shoes were best for a range of different types of travel, including hot weather, rain, beach vacations, and walking holidays. See the full results here!

Birkenstocks came up numerous times in the results of our survey—and there’s a good reason why! Many female travelers feel Birkenstocks work well for sightseeing and walking. The results from the survey are outlined below. 

birkenstocks-for-travel

One of the most popular aspects of Birkenstock sandals is the fact that they are unbelievably comfortable.

These shoes are a favorite among some female travelers who say they require no break-in period, allowing you to wear them straight from the box without feeling those horrible first-time pains! But just in case, make sure you wear your Birkenstock sandals around the house before heading out on your travels.

The cork footbed allows your feet to feel cushioned with firm arch support while walking, making them comfortable for long periods of time when exploring cities or wandering the countryside.

Other benefits of choosing Birkenstocks for travel:

  • Require no break-in period
  • Supportive and comfortable
  • Adjustable straps
  • Sturdy and comfortable
  • Fantastic for walking
  • Soft footbed
  • Great stability
  • Great for cobblestones
They’re also recommended for travelers that suffer from back pain. Find out why! 

birkenstocks-for-travel

Birkenstocks are a favorite among female travelers because they are deemed not only comfortable but also very stylish. These shoes are popular with women exploring fashionable European cities as they are cute and understated, allowing you to wear them with a variety of different outfits.

They also come in a variety of styles and colors, allowing you to choose your favorite pair based on your vacation wardrobe! We’re currently crushing on this Onyx color but they also have a fab olive green, too.

  • Cute and versatile
  • Can be dressed up and down
Read why one traveler thinks they’re the best travel shoes for Southeast Asia !

birkenstocks-for-travel

Versatility

One of the best things about Birkenstocks is their versatility. These sandals are loved by women traveling to a variety of different places–from beach breaks to city escapes–as they are perfect for relaxing on a summer vacation or even walking around huge cities for hours on end.

While they are not recommended as hiking shoe , they are still popular on cobblestone streets and uneven terrain. The fact that they are comfortable and cute means female travelers can use them to explore and look good, too!

Depending on how you choose to style them, Birkenstocks are great for daytime adventures and evening activities, as you can dress them up with an evening dress, or play them down to match your casual daytime outfit.

  • Great for steep hills and cobblestones
  • Perfect for hot climates
  • Perfect for beaches and towns

  Overall, it is clear that Birkenstocks are super popular for female travelers because they are comfortable, stylish, and versatile. They make your feet feel great no matter where you are or what you are doing!  

What are your thoughts on Birkenstocks for travel? Comment below!

For more ideas on travel sandals, please read:

  • 13 Comfortable Walking Sandals that Don’t Sacrifice Style
  • 12 Beach Sandals for Hot Weather Vacations
  • Tan Sandals Are the Perfect Neutral for Your Summer Wardrobe
  • Naot Sabrina Sandals Are My Summer Travel Go-To, Here’s Why!

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I hope you liked this post on Birkenstocks for travel. Please share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!

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Author Bio: Annie Jarvis is relatively new to the traveling world and has just completed a five month journey around South East Asia, India, and the US. She loves diving, skiing, cooking, hiking, and writing about her adventures on her  Refreshing the Page  blog.

40 Comments

Susan

I am a long time Birkenstock fan and have had a number of pairs over the years. I find that the leather Birkenstocks are my go to sandals over the synthetic. However, the EVA Birkies are soooo comfortable, lightweight and travel well! I have the Arizona EVA sandals and love them for everyday wear, travel and the beach. Highly recommend!

Alana

I love birkenstocks! I have tried other brands but always come back to my favorite birks 🙂

Kerri

The synthetic Birks are super; comfy and supportive. The one funny thing about them is the farting sound when my feet get wet!

Vanessa Rodriguez

I’m about to get my first ones as I keep reading they are the perfect sandals for summer. Hope they work for me.

adrienne corcoran

I love Birkenstock shoes and wear them year round. They’re especially good for wider feet. Have you considered doing a post about barefoot/minimal shoes? I am slowly moving towards using them and really love them; although, certainly not for everybody.

Ronni Fuchs

I bought Birkenstock luganos. They are really comfortable but can’t walk long distance

Tina J.

I don’t get it. My feet must be odd. I owned a pair and wore them often because everyone told me to break them in and they were so painful. What is the magic trick?

Alex

Hi Tina, I think that these are one of those shoes that either work for you or they don’t. 😉

Rebecca

I love my Birkenstocks and converted about a year ago. Will be my sandals for Europe trip as comfortable and past the fashion test. Wish I could get some of the strappier styles in Aust, but we have limited selection here.

Teresa farrell

Love my burks but I think I need a style with a back strap for travel. My slides are hard to walk fast in.

Jacqueline Singer

Wish I could wear these but seem to be in between sizes.

Margaret Springer

Love my Birkenstocks in gold. They can be dressed up or down and very comfortable for travel. Saw an interesting interview w their CEO and his efforts to cut down on counterfeits to protect the brand — even to the point of pulling his product off Amazon.

Caryn

I love that Birkenstock sandals come in narrow. I wear them at home for my house slippers and my feet love the support.

S Coatess

Love my Birks!

Debra Everets

I wear my Birkenstock Gizeh sandals daily at home, as well as when I travel. I bought them for my trip to Italy in 2008 and they are still in great shape in 2022!

Jakki Stodola

Yay for Birks! Currently traveling in Europe and hoping to buy some in Germany! Now I know which ones I want!! Love looking at all the choices, thank you!

Lisa McAfee

I love my Birkenstocks for travel ! I take a pair on every trip. I usually take my Arizona tan ones but Gizeh sandals I have worn walking all over Europe . I have wide feet and bunions and these never hurt my feeet.n

Leela Bakshi

My feet are so happy since following you , not only for travel, but in my daily life as mom and teacher ! Such great information on what have become my favorite shoes to keep me going and pain free all day!

Teresa Munchick

Overall I am very happy with my Birkenstocks (Arizona) but I decided not to wear them on the plane as my feet swell and I think keeping my feet more confined in a sneaker is better. I don’t love walking on cobblestones with them. I would absolutely disagree that you don’t need time to break them in. The first time I wore them I had terrible blisters both on top and on the underside of my arch. I had to wear them for very short periods to wear them in. Unfortunately I still get blisters on my arches if I walk in them for a long time. Maybe it’s because I have high arches, I should try a different style. PLEASE break them in first!

Heidi Moore

I have the Gizeh thongs in black and am taking them to Germany with me in September. They’re so comfortable and they go with everything!

Tiffany

Denver International TSA pre-check Line made me take off my Birks because of the metal buckles. However, overall-it’s now my fave to travel!

Hi Tiffany, thank you for sharing this with us, so pleased to hear your Birkenstocks are your favorite shoes for travel! Always love reading about our readers go-to products. Happy travels ?

Isaac

I have the same problem too. Need to take off my sandals to due its metal buckle. But I still love them

V

Love my birkies for everything. My finicky feet perspire a lot. Have tried many sandals but always come back to these for great support and to avoid the blisters or “slipping around” that I get with others.

alex

They’re awesome!

Erin

Yes, awesome!

Lise

I think you’ve finally convinced me that I should give birkenstocks a try!

Travel Fashion Girl

Thanks for the comment Lise! It is always worth giving something a try! You never know, they may be the comfiest shoes you’ll ever put on! Happy travels!

Kim Nethers

I’m so glad young women are embracing comfort and support in their daily footwear choices, but to call the Arizona cute is a bit of a stretch. I still think they are the most awkward looking sandal around.

Thanks for reading Kim! We totally agree, comfort is the most important! Enjoy your travels!

Mariló Morales

Love the birkenstocks! So confortable!

They are so popular with female travelers 🙂

Miriam

I say if you like them and they are comfortable then go ahead and wear them for travel if they are season appropriate.

Great tip 🙂

Tiffany H.

When I was in Germany a few years ago, I decided I wanted a pair of Birkenstocks and searched everywhere for the perfect pair . . but ultimately didn’t get any. Maybe I just prefer soft cushioning, but I don’t get how people think they are “straight out of the box” comfy? They’re so hard!

I totally understand Tiffany! I think everyone needs to find the right shoes for them and everyone is so different!

Don

You should try the soft footbed Birkenstocks. I love m in mine.

Joyce Coker

The Gizeh Birkie is my favorite style. I got a pair of the EVA ones and they are perfect for beach and poolside activities.

The Gizeh Birks are popular with other female travelers too 🙂 Thanks for sharing this!

Minouz

Thank you for the confirmation. I only own 5 pairs of Birkenstocks, and YES! The most comfortable footwear. I also have worn Borg and Merrell, Birkos are the best. Now, I will add an EVA and a strappy sandals for dressier evenings and my footwear is taken care of for my up coming European travel. 🙂

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Birkenstocks are trending — but are they good for your feet? A podiatrist weighs in

birkenstock a tours

Much like Crocs or New Balance sneakers , Birkenstocks haven't always been considered the most stylish choice. But lately, it's become hard to ignore their appeal.

From actresses to models, it seems like all our favorite celebrities own at least one pair of Birkenstocks. And the internet appears to be equally obsessed with the style. Videos featuring various versions of the shoes have racked up nearly 700 million views on TikTok (and those are just the ones that use the #Birkenstocks tag).

Just last year, the brand's Birkenstock Boston clogs were deemed the "hottest shoe of the year" in global fashion shopping platform Lyst's Year in Fashion Report. According to the company, searches for the shoes increased by 593% in the first six months of the year. And the shoe's popularity isn't slowing down — the style is still a top search query in 2023, along with the brand's iconic sandals, based on a recent report on Google Trends . And as with most fashion must-haves, we can thank TikTok for their popularity.

But with everyone rushing to grab the hot shoe of the year, we had to know: Are Birkenstocks actually a good choice? We consulted podiatrist Dr. Asim Sayed to get all of the details.

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Are birkenstocks good for your feet.

There’s a reason why you've heard so many people raving about how comfortable and supportive Birkenstocks are through the years. According to the brand, the original Birkenstock footbed is at the heart of all the models of the shoes. Made from a mix of cork and latex, it features a deep heel cup, arch support and a roomy toe box.

The deep heel cup in Birkenstocks gives you some stability and can also help control pronation (which contributes to flat feet ), Sayed says; whereas the average sandal or flip-flop offers little to no support and have flat footbeds. Birkenstocks also have a raised toe bar, which he says "can put the toes in a more comfortable position, especially if you have something like hammer toes or a flat foot. And it really helps with slippage."

Birkenstock is known for its classic cork footbed, but as it turns out, it's more than just a marketing ploy. "The material that it's made out of, it's cork and latex," Sayed says. "So we use cork in custom orthotics all the time because it has great shock-absorbing abilities and it can reduce moisture."

According to the brand, the cork and latex footbed is sandwiched between layers of jute, which are said to stabilize the materials and increase durability.

Are Birkenstocks good for foot problems?

Given all that, you might not be totally surprised to hear that Sayed says they can be beneficial for everyone (he added that he's been wearing Birkenstocks for years). "They're really good for if you have a flat foot or you have arch pain because they have a supportive longitudinal arch. But I would recommend them to most people — unless you have some kind of severe ailment that obviously needs a more personalized approach."

Because the classic, supportive footbed is at the heart of all its shoes, you can't really go wrong with any model you choose. But in case you're having a hard time making a decision, we rounded up some of the brand's bestsellers that are worth adding to your cart.

Best Birkenstock styles to wear

Arizona essentials eva.

Arizona Essentials EVA

If you're looking for something more affordable from the brand, we suggest grabbing this version of the Arizona sandals, which are made from a vinyl material. Modeled on the original, the brand says that they feature the anatomically shaped footbed, but they're also waterproof and lightweight, thanks to the EVA. Editorial director Adrianna Brach says she wears these shoes everywhere. "I literally wear these all summer long — whether I'm running around with my daughter, or at the office or TODAY studio."

Boston Soft Footbed Suede Leather

Boston Soft Footbed Suede Leather

The biggest style of the moment, Birkenstock's Boston clogs are on plenty of people's wishlists right now (including ours). In fact, they're so popular that select sizes are almost completely sold out at multiple retailers – so you're going to want to grab them now to add to your seasonal rotation ASAP.

Kyoto Slide Sandal

Kyoto Nubuck/Suede Leather

Not a fan of buckles? This Kyoto sandal design does without it and instead features a wide nubuck leather strap with a hook and loop closure. But don't worry, the shoe still sports the classic cork footbed for comfort and support.

Arizona Birko-Flor

Arizona Birko-Flor

The Arizona style is arguably one of the most popular and classic models of Birkenstocks. The simple sandals feature two adjustable straps, which, in this case, are made from the brand's proprietary Birko-Flor material, which is designed to be both durable and easy to clean.

Mayari Birko-Flor

Mayari Birko-Flor

With its crisscrossed straps and multiple color options (including a chic metallic silver version), we imagine that this pair of Birkenstocks would be easy to dress up or down for any occasion. "Got these for the arch support having recently been cursed with plantar fasciitis but quickly fell in love for the sheer comfort and laid back style of them," one Nordstrom shopper wrote. "Happy feet! Wasn’t sure Birkenstock’s were for me but they are, I love them. Don’t hesitate."

Madrid Big Buckle Oiled Leather

Madrid Big Buckle Oiled Leather

The Madrid was the sandal that started it all! And it's still one of the brand's bestselling models all these years later. This pair has an accentuated buckle for a stylish touch and comes in multiple leather color options.

Arizona Soft Footbed Suede Leather

Arizona Suede

Arizona Suede

Birkenstocks are having a moment. We love the suede look of this Arizona style.

Another iteration of the Arizona sandals, these shoes feature the brand's soft footbed, which includes a foam insert for added comfort. They also have suede leather straps, which the brand says are "soft to the touch."

Gizeh Birkibuc

Gizeh Birkibuc

One Amazon shopper said that these sandals from the brand are "worth every penny." They added that they're "super comfortable [and provide] great arch support" to alleviate foot pain. The upper of the strap is made from Birko-Flor material with a nubuck look, so the brand says that it could almost be mistaken for real leather.

What are Birkenstocks?

According to the company website , Birkenstock's humble beginnings date all the way back to 1774 in Germany, where Johann Adam Birkenstock was a cobbler. It's clear that the career path carried on with the name, because later in 1896, master cobbler Konrad Birkenstock began manufacturing and selling flexible footbed insoles.

In fact, the family became experts in footwear. In the 1940s, Carl Birkenstock released his book, “Podiatry – The Carl Birkenstock System,” which dove into his theories about “natural gait” and healthy footwear and, according to the brand, it was the highest-selling podiatry textbook at the time. Then, in 1963, the company’s first sandal, the single-strap Madrid , was launched.

So, while the shoes may be super trendy right now, the Birkenstock name has been associated with quality footwear for centuries. “They've been pioneering the arch support game and contributing to podiatry for a really long time,” Sayed says.

birkenstock a tours

Shop These are the sneakers that one podiatrist says she recommends 'every day'

How do you clean birkenstocks.

If you already have a pair of Birkenstocks and they're looking a little worse for wear , the brand has some helpful cleaning tips on its site that you can follow. To clean your shoes, you'll need a brush, an old toothbrush, a cloth, leather shampoo and two bowls of water.

If your Birkenstocks are Nubuck leather or suede, start by brushing off dirt with a shoe brush (if yours are smooth leather, you can remove it with a slightly damp cloth).

After cleaning the outside, the brand suggests opening up the straps and cleaning the outside with a damp brush. Then, switch to the toothbrush and use it to massage a mix of water and leather shampoo into the footbed. Birkenstock suggests using a wet cloth to wash them off with lukewarm water — but the brand adds that you shouldn't hold them under running water or submerge them completely.

To dry, the brand suggests placing them in a spot inside, not in the sun or on a radiator, as they may lose their moisture-absorbing qualities.

Meet our expert

  • Dr. Asim Sayed , DPM , is a podiatrist in Kansas. He is trained in all aspects of podiatry, including sports medicine, wound care and trauma and is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

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Emma Stessman is an Associate Editor for Shop TODAY.

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Hiking in Birkenstocks: Pros & Cons

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What You Will Learn

Really, Birkenstocks for Hiking?

Types of birkenstocks for hiking, features of birkenstocks, navigating different terrains with birkenstocks, men’s and women’s birkenstocks for hiking, preventing and handling blisters, considerations for long hikes, additional features of birkenstocks, frequently asked questions, more resources, what are birkenstocks.

I absolutely love my Birkenstocks and have hiked in them in my home in California, Germany, Romania and the island of Crete.

However, I’m not taking them anywhere in winter, heavy rain or longer than 5 miles.

As a physical therapist and avid hiker, I usually wear trail runners to hike but there’s a time and place for hiking in Birkenstocks.

And not all Birkenstocks are created equal and you may be surprised.

People have all kinds of opinions…like here in Europe “you must wear boots to hike”. Okay, tell that to the myriad of AT hikers in trail runners.

What you should do is test out the shoe in a store first (or buy online from a place like REI that has a good return policy) and gradually break them in.

hiking in birkenstocks

They are a type of sandal that originated in Germany and have been around for over 200 years.

They are known for their cork footbed , which molds to the shape of your foot over time, providing customized support.

This footbed is lined with suede and sits on top of a shock-absorbing sole, making them comfortable for long periods of wear.

Birkenstocks come in a variety of styles, from the classic two-strap Arizona to the more modern Gizeh.

They even make a boot! I can’t keep the

➡️ Jump straight to the Pros and Cons

Why Birkenstocks for Hiking?

Birkenstocks are a popular choice for hiking because:

  • cork footbed that molds to your foot
  • shock absorbing sole
  • less joint impact
  • high quality materials
  • long lasting

Why Not Birkenstocks for Hiking?

However, it is important to note that Birkenstocks may not be the best choice for all types of hiking. They do not provide as much ankle support as a hiking boot, which can be a concern on more rugged terrain.

Additionally, the open-toe design of some birkenstocks may not be suitable for hikes with a lot of loose rocks or debris. It is important to consider the terrain and conditions of your hike before deciding to wear Birkenstocks.

While Birkenstocks are a popular choice for casual wear and light hiking, it’s important to wear proper hiking shoes for more challenging trails. The Altra Lone Peak 7 Trail Shoes are a great option for hikers who want a comfortable and durable shoe that can handle rugged terrain. With features like a zero-drop platform, a rock plate for protection, and a wide toe box for natural foot positioning, these shoes can help improve your hiking experience and reduce the risk of injury.

Sometimes you’ve got to wear them because your normal shoes are giving you blisters.

Quick Verdict:

⭐️ all day support hiking birkenstocks ⭐️.

⭐️ All Day Support Hiking Birkenstocks ⭐️

Based on my personal experience of trying out various hiking sandals, I highly recommend the Birkenstocks Kalahari  as the best option on the market.

These sandals feature excellent performance, are breathable & anti-blister, have a protected but open toe, made with part cork and latex, and provides both style and comfort for hiking.

This type of hiking sandals is very rugged and most people would benefit from them.

They are very comfortable and help you to avoid blisters.  Most people use them when they seriously get into hiking.

Who Are They For?

➡️ Hikers & Trekkers

➡️ Hunters & Fishers

➡️ Birdwaters

➡️ Hut to Hut Hikers

➡️ People Prone to Blisters

Check Prices on Amazon

➡️ BUY BIRKENSTOCKS FROM AMAZON ⬅️

Buy Men's Version at REI 

➡️ BUY BIRKENSTOCKS FROM REI ⬅️

As an avid hiker, I know how important it is to have the right footwear for the trail. Birkenstocks are known for their comfort and support, but are they suitable for hiking? The answer is yes, but it depends on the type of Birkenstock you choose.

Birkenstock Sandals

Birkenstock sandals are a popular choice for casual wear, but they can also be used for hiking. However, not all Birkenstock sandals are suitable for the trail. Look for sandals with a sturdy sole and adjustable straps for a secure fit.

The Birkenstock Arizona and the Birkenstock Gizeh are two popular options for hiking and walking. These sandals have a contoured footbed for support and a durable outsole for traction, but the sandals listed in this table are more appropriate for longer hikes and trekking.

For Trekking & Hiking

Other sandals for shorter hikes:

  • Gizeh (Classic Thong – my favorite easy hike birk)
  • Arizona (Classic Mules – My least favorite hiking birk)
  • Mayari (Classic Big Toe – Ugh, so uncomfy)

The things is: your mileage will vary. What’s comfy for me, may be awful for you. You’ve got to try what works best for your special foot.

Birkenstock Boots

If you’re looking for more coverage and protection on the trail, Birkenstock boots are a thing. These boots are designed with the same comfort and support as Birkenstock sandals, but with added features for hiking.

✅ The Birkenstock Jackson boot is a hiking boot option with a leather upper and a cork footbed for support. I can’t say I’ve tried this one as birks for me mean sandals.

Birkenstock Sneakers

For those who prefer a more athletic look, Birkenstock sneakers are a great choice for hiking. These sneakers have a similar design to the classic Birkenstock sandal, but with a closed-toe and a more rugged outsole.

✅ The Birkenstock Bend Canvas Sneaker is a another option for hiking with a canvas upper and a cork footbed.

As someone who enjoys hiking, I have found that wearing the right shoes is essential to ensuring a comfortable and safe journey. Birkenstocks are a popular choice for many hikers due to their unique features that provide both comfort and support.

Comfort and Support

One of the key features of Birkenstocks is their footbed, which is designed to mold to the shape of your feet over time. This means that with each wear, the shoes become more comfortable and supportive.

These shoes offer excellent arch support, which is important for those who suffer from flat feet or other foot conditions.

Traction and Grip

When hiking, having shoes with good traction and grip is crucial for preventing slips and falls. Birkenstocks are designed with a sole that provides excellent traction, even on slippery or uneven terrain.

This ensures that you can confidently navigate any trail you encounter.

Durability and Protection

Hiking can be tough on shoes, which is why durability and protection are important features to consider. Birkenstocks are made with high-quality materials that are designed to withstand the rigors of hiking.

When it comes to hiking in Birkenstocks, it is important to consider the terrain you will be facing. While Birkenstocks are comfortable and provide good support for walking on flat surfaces, they may not be the best choice for more challenging terrain.

Hiking on Rough Terrain

If you plan to hike on rough terrain, it is best to choose a more supportive shoe. Birkenstocks may not provide enough ankle support and stability for these types of hikes.

Hiking on Uneven Terrain

Birkenstocks are designed for walking on flat surfaces, so hiking on uneven terrain may pose a challenge. The lack of traction and stability may cause slips and falls. If you plan to hike on uneven terrain, it is best to choose a shoe with a more rugged sole and better grip.

👉 Take my what type of hiker are you quiz .

Hiking in Wet Conditions

Birkenstocks are not waterproof, so hiking in wet conditions may cause discomfort and blisters. It is best to choose a shoe that is designed for wet conditions, such as a hiking boot with a waterproof membrane. However, if you must wear Birkenstocks, consider treating them with a waterproofing spray before your hike.

birkenstock a tours

Men’s Birkenstocks

As a hiker, I know the importance of having comfortable and sturdy footwear while on the trails. Birkenstocks are a popular choice for hiking sandals, and they come in a variety of styles for men.

One of the most popular styles is the Arizona, which features two adjustable straps for a customized fit. The Arizona is available in a variety of colors and materials, including leather and synthetic materials. Another popular option is the Milano, which features a third strap around the heel for added support.

For those looking for a more rugged option, the Birkenstock Dundee is a great choice. This hiking boot is made with durable leather and features a thick, sturdy sole for added traction on rough terrain.

Women’s Birkenstocks

Women also have a variety of Birkenstock styles to choose from for their hiking adventures. The Mayari is a popular choice, featuring a toe loop and two adjustable straps for a secure fit. The Mayari is available in a variety of colors and materials, including Birko-Flor, a synthetic leather alternative.

Another popular style for women is the Gizeh , which features a thong-style strap and an adjustable buckle for a customized fit. The Gizeh is available in a variety of colors and materials, including metallic and patent leather options.

For those looking for a more rugged option, the Birkenstock Stalon is a great choice. This hiking boot features a thick, sturdy sole and is made with durable leather for added protection on rough terrain.

Fit and Sizing

When it comes to preventing blisters while hiking in Birkenstocks, getting the right fit and size is crucial. Wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose can cause friction and rubbing, leading to painful blisters. It is important to measure your feet properly and choose the right size according to the brand’s sizing chart.

Birkenstocks are known for their unique footbed design, which molds to the shape of your feet over time. However, it’s important to break them in gradually to avoid blisters.

Blister Prevention and Care

Even with the right fit and size, blisters can still occur while hiking in Birkenstocks. To prevent blisters, wearing socks is highly recommended.

Socks provide an extra layer of protection against rubbing and friction, which can cause blisters. Choose socks made of moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters caused by sweat.

You’ll probably need toe socks to hike in Birkenstocks.

Another way to prevent blisters is to use blister prevention products, such as moleskin or blister pads. These products can be applied to areas prone to blistering before you start hiking. They provide a barrier between your skin and shoes, reducing friction and preventing blisters.

Read ➡️ My Review of the Best Toe Socks for Hiking in Birkenstocks

If you do get a blister while hiking in Birkenstocks, it’s important to take care of it properly. Clean the area with soap and water and apply a blister pad or moleskin to protect it from further rubbing.

Avoid popping the blister, as this can lead to infection. If the blister pops on its own, clean the area thoroughly and cover it with a bandage.

Read about the best blister kits for hiking.

Safety and Precautions

When planning for a long hike, safety should be a top priority. It is important to be prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise. Here are some safety tips to consider:

  • Always bring a first aid kit and know how to use it.
  • Make sure to bring enough water and snacks to keep you hydrated and energized throughout the hike.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and footwear, such as hiking boots or shoes with good ankle support.
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for any changes in weather conditions.
  • Bring a PLB if hiking into the backcountry.
  • Bring a spare phone power bank or solar charger for hiking.
  • Let someone know your hiking plans, including your expected route and estimated time of return.

Pros and Cons of Hiking in Birkenstocks

Hiking in Birkenstocks can be comfortable and enjoyable, but it is important to consider the potential drawbacks as well. Here are some benefits and disadvantages to keep in mind:

  • Birkenstocks are lightweight and breathable, making them a good choice for warmer weather.
  • They are adaptable to various terrains and can be a versatile option for different types of hikes.
  • Birkenstocks are cost-effective and eco-friendly.

Disadvantages

  • Birkenstocks do not provide as much ankle support as hiking boots or shoes, which can be a safety concern on longer hikes.
  • They may not offer enough protection from the elements, such as rain or snow.
  • Comfort issues may arise on longer hikes, as Birkenstocks may not provide enough cushioning or support for extended periods of walking.
  • Traction may also be an issue, especially on slippery or uneven terrain.

While Birkenstocks can be a comfortable and practical option for shorter hikes, it is important to consider the potential drawbacks before embarking on a longer hike. It is always better to prioritize safety and comfort over fashion or convenience.

When it comes to hiking, comfort is key, and Birkenstocks are known for their comfort and support. But did you know that Birkenstocks also have additional features that make them a great choice for hiking? Here are a few features to consider when choosing Birkenstocks for your next hike.

Vegan Sandals

Birkenstocks are known for their high-quality leather, but they also offer vegan options for those who prefer not to wear animal products. The Birkenstock Vegan collection is made from synthetic materials that are durable and water-resistant. These sandals are a great choice for hikers who want to stay comfortable and ethical on the trail.

Water-Resistant Models

Hiking often involves water, whether it’s crossing a stream or getting caught in a rainstorm. Birkenstock offers several water-resistant models that are perfect for hiking in wet conditions.

The Birkenstock Arizona Essentials and the Birkenstock Gizeh Essentials are both made from EVA, a lightweight and water-resistant material. These sandals are easy to clean and quick-drying, making them a great choice for hikers who want to stay comfortable in wet conditions.

Affordable Options

Hiking gear can be expensive, but Birkenstocks offer affordable options for hikers on a budget. The Birkenstock Essentials collection is a great choice for hikers who want the comfort and support of Birkenstocks without breaking the bank.

These sandals are made from lightweight and durable EVA and come in a variety of colors.

What are the best hiking sandals?

As a hiker, you want to choose a sandal that provides adequate support, traction, and durability. Look for sandals with a sturdy sole and adjustable straps that can keep your feet secure. Some of the best hiking sandals include Chaco , Teva , Keen , and Merrell .

Are Birkenstocks suitable for long hikes?

Birkenstocks are designed to provide comfort and support for casual walking and everyday wear. While they may be suitable for short hikes, they are not recommended for long hikes or strenuous activities. Birkenstock hiking sandals such as the Kalahari Womens or Milano Men’s with more advanced features such as a sturdy sole and adjustable straps are better suited for long hikes.

Can hiking sandals be used for hiking?

Yes, hiking sandals can be used for hiking, but it’s important to choose the right pair. Hiking sandals are designed to provide support, traction, and durability for outdoor activities. Look for sandals with a sturdy sole, adjustable straps, and a comfortable fit.

Which Birkenstock sandals are best for walking?

Birkenstock sandals are known for their comfort and support for everyday wear. For walking, the best Birkenstock sandals are those with a contoured footbed that provides arch support. The Arizona and Gizeh models are popular choices for walking.

What do podiatrists think about Birkenstocks?

Podiatrists generally have mixed opinions about Birkenstocks. While some podiatrists recommend them for their arch support and comfort, others caution against wearing them for extended periods of time or for strenuous activities. It’s important to consult with your podiatrist to determine if Birkenstocks are right for you.

How do Birkenstock hiking sandals compare to other brands?

Birkenstock hiking sandals are known for their comfort and support, but they may not be as durable or provide as much traction as other brands such as Chaco, Teva, Keen, and Merrell. It’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a hiking sandal.

⌚ Explore more with confidence with our top-rated hiking and navigational watch!

If you need a reliable GPS watch for your trip, then my personal recommendation is to choose Garmin Fenix 7X Sapphire Watch , an award winning navigation watch with advanced features like GPS tracking, altimeter and long battery life. Plus with durable and waterproof design, you can take on any weather.

We hope this guide filled with interesting information about hiking in Birkenstocks has given you the proper information to plan your next adventure.

Discover gear that elevates your outdoor adventures. As a physical therapist, I’ve curated product comparisons to enhance safety and enjoyment, perfect for beginners or those with weary knees.

Physical Therapist Curated Gear Guides for Hikers & Skiers

  • 🧎 Make your knees feel better while hiking and walking: Best Knee Braces for Hiking
  • 🌳Make the downhills stop hurting and hike with more confidence Best Trekking Poles Review
  • ⌚ Never get lost on the trail and navigate the wilderness safely with My Review of the Best GPS Watches for Hiking
  • ❄️ Go hiking on uneven terrain safely: The Best Hiking Boots with Ankle Support
  • Don’t get lost in the backcountry with : My Review of the Best 2 Way Radios for the Mountains

My Guides to Bucketlist Hikes in Europe (That I’ve personally done and loved.)

  • Alta Via 1 Trail in the Dolomites
  • Olpererhütte Hike in Austria
  • The Fisherman’s Trail in Portugal
  • The Tour du Mont Blanc Hike vs the Alta Via 1

birkenstock a tours

Author profile :  Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.

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A Rare Birkenstock Sale Is Happening Now and You'll Need to Act Fast If You Want In

It'll be sandal season before you know it.

Author image: Destinee Scott Author Profile Photo

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here .

A design by Dasha Burobina for PureWow featuring the Birkenstock vegan sandals on sale now at QVC.

If you're on the East Coast like us, you're probably counting down the days to spring. We're so ready for warm weather that we're shopping ahead, and we suggest you do, too, because a rare Birkenstock sale is happening at QVC . Right now, you can take $20 off the vegan version of the brand's beloved two-strap Arizona sandals , which means you can snap them up for as low as $80 (from $100) in a beautiful and versatile pecan color. Better yet, if you're new to QVC, you can save an additional $15 with coupon code WELCOME15 , so don't make the mistake of skipping this sale.

Want to know which buzzy products are *really* worth buying? Sign up for our shopping newsletter to uncover our favorite finds.

According to our fashion editor, Abby Hepworth, “These easy slides are *the* way to go if you want something that’s both comfortable and trendy this spring." Not only do the shoes feature the brand's signature microfiber-lined contoured cork footbed, but they also have an outsole made from EVA, which is a type of foam material known for its lightweight support and shock absorption.

A close up of the Birkenstock Two-Strap Slide Sandals.

Birkenstock

In other words, these sandals should provide the everyday comfort you're looking for without sacrificing style. Because let us tell you, the metallic buckles and adjustable vegan straps (which still have the look of textured leather) are as timeless as can be. After all, they're the reason why anyone can spot Birkenstocks from a mile away.

BTW, these cool canvas thong sandals are also marked down to just $88 (were $110) at QVC, and they're just as stylish for any upcoming vacays you've got on the calendar. *Every* size is available for both shoes, but they definitely won't be for long once word gets out about this rare Birkenstock sale. Hop to it, y'all!

How to Clean Birkenstocks, Because It’s Almost Sandal Season Again

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Assistant Sales and Deals Editor

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In Transit: Notes from the Underground

Jun 06 2018.

Spend some time in one of Moscow’s finest museums.

Subterranean commuting might not be anyone’s idea of a good time, but even in a city packing the war-games treasures and priceless bejeweled eggs of the Kremlin Armoury and the colossal Soviet pavilions of the VDNKh , the Metro holds up as one of Moscow’s finest museums. Just avoid rush hour.

The Metro is stunning and provides an unrivaled insight into the city’s psyche, past and present, but it also happens to be the best way to get around. Moscow has Uber, and the Russian version called Yandex Taxi , but also some nasty traffic. Metro trains come around every 90 seconds or so, at a more than 99 percent on-time rate. It’s also reasonably priced, with a single ride at 55 cents (and cheaper in bulk). From history to tickets to rules — official and not — here’s what you need to know to get started.

A Brief Introduction Buying Tickets Know Before You Go (Down) Rules An Easy Tour

A Brief Introduction

Moscow’s Metro was a long time coming. Plans for rapid transit to relieve the city’s beleaguered tram system date back to the Imperial era, but a couple of wars and a revolution held up its development. Stalin revived it as part of his grand plan to modernize the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 30s. The first lines and tunnels were constructed with help from engineers from the London Underground, although Stalin’s secret police decided that they had learned too much about Moscow’s layout and had them arrested on espionage charges and deported.

The beauty of its stations (if not its trains) is well-documented, and certainly no accident. In its illustrious first phases and particularly after the Second World War, the greatest architects of Soviet era were recruited to create gleaming temples celebrating the Revolution, the USSR, and the war triumph. No two stations are exactly alike, and each of the classic showpieces has a theme. There are world-famous shrines to Futurist architecture, a celebration of electricity, tributes to individuals and regions of the former Soviet Union. Each marble slab, mosaic tile, or light fixture was placed with intent, all in service to a station’s aesthetic; each element, f rom the smallest brass ear of corn to a large blood-spattered sword on a World War II mural, is an essential part of the whole.

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The Metro is a monument to the Soviet propaganda project it was intended to be when it opened in 1935 with the slogan “Building a Palace for the People”. It brought the grand interiors of Imperial Russia to ordinary Muscovites, celebrated the Soviet Union’s past achievements while promising its citizens a bright Soviet future, and of course, it was a show-piece for the world to witness the might and sophistication of life in the Soviet Union.

It may be a museum, but it’s no relic. U p to nine million people use it daily, more than the London Underground and New York Subway combined. (Along with, at one time, about 20 stray dogs that learned to commute on the Metro.)

In its 80+ year history, the Metro has expanded in phases and fits and starts, in step with the fortunes of Moscow and Russia. Now, partly in preparation for the World Cup 2018, it’s also modernizing. New trains allow passengers to walk the entire length of the train without having to change carriages. The system is becoming more visitor-friendly. (There are helpful stickers on the floor marking out the best selfie spots .) But there’s a price to modernity: it’s phasing out one of its beloved institutions, the escalator attendants. Often they are middle-aged or elderly women—“ escalator grandmas ” in news accounts—who have held the post for decades, sitting in their tiny kiosks, scolding commuters for bad escalator etiquette or even bad posture, or telling jokes . They are slated to be replaced, when at all, by members of the escalator maintenance staff.

For all its achievements, the Metro lags behind Moscow’s above-ground growth, as Russia’s capital sprawls ever outwards, generating some of the world’s worst traffic jams . But since 2011, the Metro has been in the middle of an ambitious and long-overdue enlargement; 60 new stations are opening by 2020. If all goes to plan, the 2011-2020 period will have brought 125 miles of new tracks and over 100 new stations — a 40 percent increase — the fastest and largest expansion phase in any period in the Metro’s history.

Facts: 14 lines Opening hours: 5 a.m-1 a.m. Rush hour(s): 8-10 a.m, 4-8 p.m. Single ride: 55₽ (about 85 cents) Wi-Fi network-wide

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Buying Tickets

  • Ticket machines have a button to switch to English.
  • You can buy specific numbers of rides: 1, 2, 5, 11, 20, or 60. Hold up fingers to show how many rides you want to buy.
  • There is also a 90-minute ticket , which gets you 1 trip on the metro plus an unlimited number of transfers on other transport (bus, tram, etc) within 90 minutes.
  • Or, you can buy day tickets with unlimited rides: one day (218₽/ US$4), three days (415₽/US$7) or seven days (830₽/US$15). Check the rates here to stay up-to-date.
  • If you’re going to be using the Metro regularly over a few days, it’s worth getting a Troika card , a contactless, refillable card you can use on all public transport. Using the Metro is cheaper with one of these: a single ride is 36₽, not 55₽. Buy them and refill them in the Metro stations, and they’re valid for 5 years, so you can keep it for next time. Or, if you have a lot of cash left on it when you leave, you can get it refunded at the Metro Service Centers at Ulitsa 1905 Goda, 25 or at Staraya Basmannaya 20, Building 1.
  • You can also buy silicone bracelets and keychains with built-in transport chips that you can use as a Troika card. (A Moscow Metro Fitbit!) So far, you can only get these at the Pushkinskaya metro station Live Helpdesk and souvenir shops in the Mayakovskaya and Trubnaya metro stations. The fare is the same as for the Troika card.
  • You can also use Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Rules, spoken and unspoken

No smoking, no drinking, no filming, no littering. Photography is allowed, although it used to be banned.

Stand to the right on the escalator. Break this rule and you risk the wrath of the legendary escalator attendants. (No shenanigans on the escalators in general.)

Get out of the way. Find an empty corner to hide in when you get off a train and need to stare at your phone. Watch out getting out of the train in general; when your train doors open, people tend to appear from nowhere or from behind ornate marble columns, walking full-speed.

Always offer your seat to elderly ladies (what are you, a monster?).

An Easy Tour

This is no Metro Marathon ( 199 stations in 20 hours ). It’s an easy tour, taking in most—though not all—of the notable stations, the bulk of it going clockwise along the Circle line, with a couple of short detours. These stations are within minutes of one another, and the whole tour should take about 1-2 hours.

Start at Mayakovskaya Metro station , at the corner of Tverskaya and Garden Ring,  Triumfalnaya Square, Moskva, Russia, 125047.

1. Mayakovskaya.  Named for Russian Futurist Movement poet Vladimir Mayakovsky and an attempt to bring to life the future he imagined in his poems. (The Futurist Movement, natch, was all about a rejecting the past and celebrating all things speed, industry, modern machines, youth, modernity.) The result: an Art Deco masterpiece that won the National Grand Prix for architecture at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. It’s all smooth, rounded shine and light, and gentle arches supported by columns of dark pink marble and stainless aircraft steel. Each of its 34 ceiling niches has a mosaic. During World War II, the station was used as an air-raid shelter and, at one point, a bunker for Stalin. He gave a subdued but rousing speech here in Nov. 6, 1941 as the Nazis bombed the city above.

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Take the 3/Green line one station to:

2. Belorusskaya. Opened in 1952, named after the connected Belarussky Rail Terminal, which runs trains between Moscow and Belarus. This is a light marble affair with a white, cake-like ceiling, lined with Belorussian patterns and 12 Florentine ceiling mosaics depicting life in Belarussia when it was built.

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Transfer onto the 1/Brown line. Then, one stop (clockwise) t o:

3. Novoslobodskaya.  This station was designed around the stained-glass panels, which were made in Latvia, because Alexey Dushkin, the Soviet starchitect who dreamed it up (and also designed Mayakovskaya station) couldn’t find the glass and craft locally. The stained glass is the same used for Riga’s Cathedral, and the panels feature plants, flowers, members of the Soviet intelligentsia (musician, artist, architect) and geometric shapes.

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Go two stops east on the 1/Circle line to:

4. Komsomolskaya. Named after the Komsomol, or the Young Communist League, this might just be peak Stalin Metro style. Underneath the hub for three regional railways, it was intended to be a grand gateway to Moscow and is today its busiest station. It has chandeliers; a yellow ceiling with Baroque embellishments; and in the main hall, a colossal red star overlaid on golden, shimmering tiles. Designer Alexey Shchusev designed it as an homage to the speech Stalin gave at Red Square on Nov. 7, 1941, in which he invoked Russia’s illustrious military leaders as a pep talk to Soviet soldiers through the first catastrophic year of the war.   The station’s eight large mosaics are of the leaders referenced in the speech, such as Alexander Nevsky, a 13th-century prince and military commander who bested German and Swedish invading armies.

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One more stop clockwise to Kurskaya station,  and change onto the 3/Blue  line, and go one stop to:

5. Baumanskaya.   Opened in 1944. Named for the Bolshevik Revolutionary Nikolai Bauman , whose monument and namesake district are aboveground here. Though he seemed like a nasty piece of work (he apparently once publicly mocked a woman he had impregnated, who later hung herself), he became a Revolutionary martyr when he was killed in 1905 in a skirmish with a monarchist, who hit him on the head with part of a steel pipe. The station is in Art Deco style with atmospherically dim lighting, and a series of bronze sculptures of soldiers and homefront heroes during the War. At one end, there is a large mosaic portrait of Lenin.

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Stay on that train direction one more east to:

6. Elektrozavodskaya. As you may have guessed from the name, this station is the Metro’s tribute to all thing electrical, built in 1944 and named after a nearby lightbulb factory. It has marble bas-relief sculptures of important figures in electrical engineering, and others illustrating the Soviet Union’s war-time struggles at home. The ceiling’s recurring rows of circular lamps give the station’s main tunnel a comforting glow, and a pleasing visual effect.

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Double back two stops to Kurskaya station , and change back to the 1/Circle line. Sit tight for six stations to:

7. Kiyevskaya. This was the last station on the Circle line to be built, in 1954, completed under Nikita Khrushchev’ s guidance, as a tribute to his homeland, Ukraine. Its three large station halls feature images celebrating Ukraine’s contributions to the Soviet Union and Russo-Ukrainian unity, depicting musicians, textile-working, soldiers, farmers. (One hall has frescoes, one mosaics, and the third murals.) Shortly after it was completed, Khrushchev condemned the architectural excesses and unnecessary luxury of the Stalin era, which ushered in an epoch of more austere Metro stations. According to the legend at least, he timed the policy in part to ensure no Metro station built after could outshine Kiyevskaya.

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Change to the 3/Blue line and go one stop west.

8. Park Pobedy. This is the deepest station on the Metro, with one of the world’s longest escalators, at 413 feet. If you stand still, the escalator ride to the surface takes about three minutes .) Opened in 2003 at Victory Park, the station celebrates two of Russia’s great military victories. Each end has a mural by Georgian artist Zurab Tsereteli, who also designed the “ Good Defeats Evil ” statue at the UN headquarters in New York. One mural depicts the Russian generals’ victory over the French in 1812 and the other, the German surrender of 1945. The latter is particularly striking; equal parts dramatic, triumphant, and gruesome. To the side, Red Army soldiers trample Nazi flags, and if you look closely there’s some blood spatter among the detail. Still, the biggest impressions here are the marble shine of the chessboard floor pattern and the pleasingly geometric effect if you view from one end to the other.

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Keep going one more stop west to:

9. Slavyansky Bulvar.  One of the Metro’s youngest stations, it opened in 2008. With far higher ceilings than many other stations—which tend to have covered central tunnels on the platforms—it has an “open-air” feel (or as close to it as you can get, one hundred feet under). It’s an homage to French architect Hector Guimard, he of the Art Nouveau entrances for the Paris M é tro, and that’s precisely what this looks like: A Moscow homage to the Paris M é tro, with an additional forest theme. A Cyrillic twist on Guimard’s Metro-style lettering over the benches, furnished with t rees and branch motifs, including creeping vines as towering lamp-posts.

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Stay on the 3/Blue line and double back four stations to:

10. Arbatskaya. Its first iteration, Arbatskaya-Smolenskaya station, was damaged by German bombs in 1941. It was rebuilt in 1953, and designed to double as a bomb shelter in the event of nuclear war, although unusually for stations built in the post-war phase, this one doesn’t have a war theme. It may also be one of the system’s most elegant: Baroque, but toned down a little, with red marble floors and white ceilings with gilded bronze c handeliers.

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Jump back on the 3/Blue line  in the same direction and take it one more stop:

11. Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Revolution Square). Opened in 1938, and serving Red Square and the Kremlin . Its renowned central hall has marble columns flanked by 76 bronze statues of Soviet heroes: soldiers, students, farmers, athletes, writers, parents. Some of these statues’ appendages have a yellow sheen from decades of Moscow’s commuters rubbing them for good luck. Among the most popular for a superstitious walk-by rub: the snout of a frontier guard’s dog, a soldier’s gun (where the touch of millions of human hands have tapered the gun barrel into a fine, pointy blade), a baby’s foot, and a woman’s knee. (A brass rooster also sports the telltale gold sheen, though I am told that rubbing the rooster is thought to bring bad luck. )

Now take the escalator up, and get some fresh air.

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