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One unexpected issue that many travelers discover once they get to Europe are the cobblestone streets. Find out how and why to choose the best walking shoes for Europe!
Choosing the Best Walking Shoes for Europe
Written by: Niki Landry
One of the charms of visiting many European cities is strolling through the authentic streetscapes. Old buildings, narrow alleys, and picturesque towns make for lovely photos, but often come with a pitfall: the cobblestone street.
VIDEO IN ENGLAND SHOWING YOU HOW TO CHOOSE SHOES FOR THE COBBLESTONES
While great to look at, stone streets aren’t always the easiest to walk on and can make for sore feet even if you don’t normally have discomfort. Depending on the city, these streets can also be hilly, slippery when wet, and uneven.
Pair this with the miles of walking you’ll do and your feet may be screaming by the end of the day. Take it from one reader who shared this story with us:
There are no shoes made in the world (yes I’m being a little melodramatic here) that are made for a 3 week tour of Europe that has so far averaged between 8 and 10 miles (16 kilometers) of walking per day. We are 2 weeks in and my feet are tired, swollen, and sore. I have worn the right shoes, traded off daily if not twice a day, and have not experienced any blisters. However, there is nothing that prepares your feel for this type of stress and usage. But I wouldn’t trade Parisian strolls, light “hiking” in the Alps, or walking through through the cobblestones of Florence for the pain. Just a word that no matter what preparations you make, your hopes and plans will outwork the ability of your feet to remain pain free.
It can be hard to keep your feet feeling perfectly content when you’re walking all day, but with the best walking shoes for Europe, you can take to the streets like a local and survive the days!
Geox Nebula Walking Shoe (seen in Europe 2017)
When choosing the correct footwear to traverse stone streets, the best walking shoes for Europe include these features:
- Adequate foot support
- Cushioned supportive insole
- Rubber sole with ridges and/or grooves
- Style (a bonus)
Geox Italian Sneakers have built-in comfort plus elements of style, too.
Keeping Your Feet Happy
Before we jump into the best shoes for Europe, there are a few steps you can take to keep your feet happy on your trip.
The most important thing you can do for your feet is break in your shoes before your trip. As one reader says, “My advice to all: walk tons in the shoes you plan to wear. Do NOT take any shoes you can’t do 1-2 miles in.”
Some of the best walking shoes for Europe may have a rough break-in period, and you don’t want to endure the pain during your travels. If you break them in at home, you can wear them for shorter intervals and give your feet a break.
Additionally, it’s helpful to pack a few shoes for Europe and switch them out throughout your trip based on your activities and destinations. As one reader says, “The main thing I try to do is switch up my footwear. I try not to wear the same shoes two days in a row, that way pressure points and painful areas are distributed differently each day,” while another adds, “I like to have different shoe options too. I find changing it up is the best thing for my feet.”
One reader swapped between two shoes and kept her feet happy. She says, “I just got back from two weeks in Italy, rotating between a pair of Hartjes XS lace-ups and Keen Rose sandals. I walked between 7 and 9 miles a day in really ferocious heat and never had a problem, and am truly grateful for both of those pairs of shoes.”
And lastly, give your feet some love when you are resting and sleeping for the night. A reader shares, “I married a man who spent his youth backpacking, hiking and doing survivalist training. On our long trips, we sleep with our feet elevated slightly on pillow or two. It helps your feet recover and reduces swelling. I’m always shocked how much of a difference it makes!”
Now let’s take a look at our list of the best walking shoes for Europe to help you survive the infamous cobblestone streets.
The Best Sandals for Europe
In the summertime, nothing beats a sandal for traveling, but it’s important to find something fashionable and supportive. As much as I love a simple slide-on sandal, they aren’t the best for long days and walking uphill.
I highly suggest shoes with an ankle strap and cushioned sole. Leather straps also make for a more comfortable fit as opposed to a stiff, man-made upper.
One reader says, “I wore Teva sandals for six weeks throughout France, Spain, and Italy averaging 12 to 15 miles a day. They were great and I had no issues walking and no pain.”
We’ve got thirteen more comfortable walking sandals for you to choose from!
The Best Slip Ons for Europe
If you prefer a closed-toe option, then loafers, slip-ons, and oxfords may be more your style. These three styles come with insole support and cushioning, but you can always add an insole to an existing shoe you own.
I love the look of these shoes without socks, but it’s not always the best option if you want to keep your feet comfy and fresh. Instead, pack a pair or two of these no-show shoe liners to wear with your low-cut shoes.
Several readers recommended Clarks for the best travel shoes for Europe. One reader said, “My Clarks got me through 4 weeks in Italy, walking 5 to 6 miles per day. My feet were tired at the end of our day, but not sore and no blisters,” while another added, “I have to say, Clarks have also worked the best for me too. I had the BEST gold pair ever, wore them ALL day in Rome in the sweaty summer and while I still had to use bandaids and moleskin, I was impressed that they performed as well as they did.”
Finding shoes that are both comfortable and fashionable is the ultimate goal for almost all female travelers. Find out where to shop for comfort shoes!
The Best Sneakers for Europe
Sneakers sometimes get a bad rap. As one reader says, “The only shoe that feels great is a full-on sporty sneaker (which looks sooo uncool).” Today, there are so many stylish styles that are equally as comfortable.
Stylish sneakers are always a good option for any city streets and some of the best walking shoes for Europe. They’re particularly good on wet cobblestones, which you’ll encounter since many regions may experience rain year-round.
One reader says, “Adidas Tubulars literally saved my life. A little bit of pain for the first 48 hours getting used to them and then it was like I wasn’t wearing shoes for the rest of the 5 weeks of my Europe trip. They have OrthoLite insoles in them and you can chose a basic color or you can mix it up with something colorful.”
Even if you dress casually, you can still looked pulled together with one of these three shoe options if you choose classic, tailored clothing. Choose a shoe with a sturdy rubber grip on the sole.
If you have issues with your ankle rubbing on the back of low-cut shoes, then a pair of mid-top shoes may be what you’re after. I wore my pair continuously on my spring trip to Portugal.
Take a look at this fun selection of women’s casual sneakers!
The Best Ballet Flats for Europe
Standard ballet flats are not the best walking shoes for Europe for a full day of sightseeing. They’re the perfect option for a dressy, chic shoe on light travel days or evenings. However, we don’t recommend you spend eight hours walking in them.
They’re my least my favorite option for cobblestones because they tend to slip off the back of the foot and rub, especially on narrow-footed women, but it may be necessary if you need dressy options without a heel during your trip.
One reader says, “I love the comfort and style of Joseph Seibel’s black flats. I wore them while touring, walking on cobblestones, and going out to dinner and, they still look great.”
Similar to the other shoes listed above: look for a flexible sole, cushioned insole, and a soft upper that easily molds to your foot if you plan to spend extended periods of time walking in them.
Take a look at the ten most cute and comfortable ballet flats for travel!
The Best Boots for Europe
For visiting destinations in the shoulder season or with unpredictable weather, a pair of ankle booties are the best walking shoes for Europe. They’re great for keeping your feet warm and dry, but are also a European footwear staple.
To bear the brunt of cobblestones, look for options with a thick sole and cushioned interior. Also, a bottom with grips will help going downhill on slippery stones. I like the simple pull-on style for ease of dressing and removal at the airport.
One reader says, “I did Europe for 16 days of heavy walking in one pair of ankle boots in December. I changed the insoles out and my poor, terrible feet never felt better. I used the Naot insoles that came in the boots, and then changed them out with a pair of Superfeet insoles. I also had an ultra thin foil like insulating layer to help keep my feet warm (made by Pedag) that worked very well.”
For more ideas, take a look at the best women’s waterproof leather boots as voted by TFG’s readers!
What do you think are the best walking shoes for Europe? Please share below!
For more ideas on walking shoes for Europe, please read:
- Ten-Step Guide to Choosing Shoes for Travel
- The Best Sandals for Travel this Summer: 10 Shoes Reinventing How Comfort Looks
- Travel-Friendly Women’s Casual Sneakers: 6 Trendy Styles to Shop Now
- Cute Travel Sandals: The Unexpected Style I Fell in Love With
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Author Bio: Niki is an interior designer and artist from Louisiana. In addition to her design work, she writes for local and online publications sharing her experiences and passion for travel. Niki is currently adding stamps to her passport while building her design practice, Niki Landry Designs.