The Most Comfortable Walking Shoes for Europe

Spring  until late fall is ideal for a European vacation, and the best way to see most Old World cities is on foot. Touring museums, churches and galleries; poking around in craft shops, taking photos in a cobblestone alley, hunting for a café or trattoria off the beaten path. Are your feet aching yet?

ECCO BIOM GRIP LITE

Ecco Biom Grip Lite – great for walking

The secret to successful walking, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic, is a pair of comfortable well-fitting walking shoes. They suggest a fairly lightweight shoe with good shock absorption like Ecco BIOM GRIP Lite Mary Jane. Weighing in at a mere 7 ounces it is one of the best shoes for walking around Europe.

One user reported walking in this shoe for three weeks in Italy, often without socks, with no blisters or other discomfort.

When it comes to comfort, the shape of your foot and the height of your arch are considerations since the lasts, or forms used as patterns, differ widely based on the shoe design. Many over 40 women must also address bunions, neuromas, prior injuries and other foot and ankle issues.

Like the search for a perfect pair of jeans, getting a walking shoe with a great fit make take a few tries. You need to test a variety of shoes. March yourself into a store or if you prefer to order online, be ready to return selections that don’t run true to size or don’t fit your particular foot well. To get the best fit:

  • Try shoes on at the end of the day when your feet are widest.
  • Try on shoes with the type of socks or liners you plan to wear with them.
  • Have both feet measured and if they are different, go with the larger size.
  • If you’re shopping offline, bring a pair of well-worn shoes to a fitting – a professional sales specialist can tell a lot about how best to fit you from the wear pattern.

Hundreds of walking shoe styles are available, but is there one you would consider wearing into Versace on the Via Venetto or Fabregé on the Rue Saint Honoré?

Let’s look at some more options:

1. Sleek & Sporty Walking Shoe

Another offering from Ecco along the same lines but with an asymmetrical strap is the Ecco Arizona Mary Jane Flat.  They must be named Arizona because they come in two gorgeous desert colors:  warm gray color (see below) and a darker gray called dark shadow.

ecco biom arizona Mary Jane

Ecco Biom Arizona Mary Jane

 

This walking shoe would be my choice! It’s just a tiny different with that strap, the color is modern and they’re by Ecco, so super comfy too! Feel more comfortable in a double strap? Check out the Ecco Cayla Mary Jane.

 

merrrell-enlighten-eluma-breeze-flat

 

Some of you prefer a colored shoes.  Why not, after all this is a fun walking shoe we are talking about. In this case, the  Merrell’s Enlighten Eluma Breeze Flats   are fabulous. Don’t you love the periwinkle shade?

Don’t Like Straps? – These are New!

Many report a strap makes a walking shoe very solid, but if you prefer no strap try the Merrell mimix Meld Sneaker  – a sporty ballerina flat which is very comfy and attractive.

I love the pattern on this shoe which is so subtle, that if you get these shoes dirty, no one will notice. Plus, these flats come in 6 stunning color combinations!

 

walking shoes europe

Merrell Mimix Meld walking shoe

 

Many tourists report they love these type of open top shoes, as the traditional runner top styles are hot and not as flexible on the foot when you are walking.

Prefer a solid color open top flat walking shoe? Try these

 

2. Slightly Dressy Walking Shoe

Here’s  a big seller!  The Merrell Dassie. Stores can’t keep this shoe in stock. It’s a favourite. Women love it because it is slightly dressier so you can wear it with skirts and dresses. Also, the angular strap seems to make the shoe stay on your foot very well and it gives the shoe a modern twist. This shoe works well during the day and into the evening.

 

merrell dassie

 

3. Casual /Dressy, works Anywhere Ballerina Flat

A personal favorite, and one that actual users rate highly, is Ecco’s Angel Bow Ballerina flat. Women who reviewed these lightweight shoes said they bought them because they wanted cute walking shoes for Europe they could wear both day and night. They wore them to walk extensively in Paris, Nice, Madrid and rural Spain.

This cute walking shoe for Europe works well with pants, skirts and jeans. Ecco’s Cosmic Ballerina flat is also nice.

Ecco angel ballerina flat best walking shoe - cute walking shoe for Europe

ECCO Angel Bow Ballerina Flat

4. Comfy Dance-Like Walking Shoes

If you’re ready to really think out of the box, barefoot running and walking have been researched extensively and shown to naturally improve your gait and carriage, develop strength in the muscles and ligaments of your feet, legs and hips.  If walking ancient sidewalks and streets barefoot doesn’t entice you, minimalist footwear is available.

vivo barefoot jng jing

vivo barefoot jing jing

Check out Vivobarefoot’s soft dance-like shoes . They also one of the best walking shoes for Europe women rave about. Wearers call them “a tetanus-free and socially acceptable way of appearing barefoot in public.”

Above is the  Vivobarefoot Jing Jing . It’s also available in black , taupe and in blue . Women love this soft ballet flat because of the elastic that hugs the heel and keeps the shoe from slipping.

5. “Sneaker” Walking Shoe

If you really just want a good old-fashioned sneaker then here’s a suggestion for a modern version. It’s the Biom Lite Slip on sneaker.  Be sure to check out this fresh gray/green combo and dusty rose color, which is new.

biom lite slip on sneaker

Biom lite slip on sneaker- modern and comfy

6. Classic Boat Style Walking Shoe

Finally, a more traditional option is this cute and very lightweight Skechers On the Go Sail boat shoe. It receives good reviews from users who wore them to walk miles in Europe. The preppy styling works well with a skirt, polo shirt or blouse with a sweater tied around the neck, as well as jeans and casual trousers – think khaki.

skechers boat shoe

So the verdict in our fashion vs. function question is in: Your shoes won’t be statement pieces if you’re well dressed and well-groomed. And you will feel perfectly comfortable crossing the threshold of the most chichi establishment during your travels. What have you found are the most stylish and comfortable walking shoes for Europe? I’d love to know.

*This article from guest contributor: Alice Ann Toole.

If you a creative type looking for a travel shoe that is a little more creative, check out this post on funky travel shoes. 



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  1. Ericka Nelson says:

    I would recommend the Ahnu Crissy II shoe, they look great with shorts, capris and skirts for daytime excursions. I spent 3 days sightseeing in NYC and these shoes didn’t disappoint. My heel is narrow, these shoes have great support in the heel and I had no problems with my heel slipping.

  2. I wore Crocs Walu canvas loafers while walking extensively in Europe last year, as well as on subsequent trips, and love them! I’ve had many compliments from strangers when wearing them, especially with skinny jeans or crops.

  3. joan kosmachuk says:

    My podiatrist recommended The “Traveler” shoe by Munro. I have neuromas so I need a roomy shoe. I have an orthopedic insert which I was able put into these and they were fantastic. I get terrible water retention when I fly so having the microfiber was a life saver since it simply stretches as your feet need more space. I walked all over Paris and London and these were great!

    • Hi Joan Thanks for that fantastic tip. I’m going to look for a pair to add to this post. Traveling is so much more fun when you don’t have to deal with aching feet! Cheers, Deborah

  4. I went to Paris, London and Hong Kong. I wanted fashionable walking shoes to wear with both skirts and trousers/shorts. I ended up with Hush Puppies Ivanka boat shoes and soft leather Hush Puppies mocassins with elastic round the back (can’t find the name). They both needed to be broken in which I did in advance, the boat shoes more than the mocassins, but once they were, they were brilliant. I wear them with or without socks (very important). The leather ones with elastic were good for flying as my feet and ankles got very swollen for the first time ever. I wore them day and night including to non-fancy restaurants and never felt out of place anywhere.

    • Hi Alex,
      Thanks for the recommendation. I’m sure it will be very helpful to my readers. You make a really good point. Even the most comfortable walking shoes need to be broken in. That’s something a lot of women forget and they end up miderable for a couple of days with blistering heels.
      Cheers! Deborah

  5. Having a narrow foot, 3A to 4A width and 6A heel, finding any comfortable shoes is a challenge. (Before age 40, my width was 5A.) I have tried Ecco, Clarks, Born, Sketchers, Soft Spots, Soft Walks, Naturalizer, Propet, Easy Spirit, etc. So far, Munro is the only brand that really fits my narrow foot. Munro doesn’t really have a good “walking shoe”. I have a high arch, so even in my Munro’s, I need extra arch support. Does anyone have a suggestion for walking shoes for me? These articles are very helpful!! Thank you.

  6. Sue Smiles says:

    I travelled thru France and Italy last September 2013 and wore several pairs of Joya shoes – a lace up, runner style for more heavy duty walks like Cinque Terre and a pair of leather flatties called Delia which were great for walking around cities like Paris and Rome. I was tempted to also buy a pair of sandals called Malta Fire which have the same dense, soft sole but decided against it. In hindsight, these would have been perfect for provincial towns, market days and casual wear. Next time!!

  7. This would be a perfect segway into one of my weekly “You Choose The Shoes” blog posts!

  8. NANETTE CATARINELLA says:

    I have spent the past two weeks searching for comfortable, attractive shoes for a trip to Paris. Have discovered that there is no such thing as an attractive, sturdy walking shoe. Finally decided to purchase Clark’s Wave Wheel – Wave Walk in black leather for serious daytime sight seeing and Clark’s Choir black leather Ballerina style flat for evenings. For me those two styles were the most comfortable and least offensive walking shoes.

  9. Janet Turner says:

    Keen brand. Waterproof, fast drying, antibacterial, ergonomic footbed. Love them!

  10. I do have to wear cushioned shoes, but I also like them to be pretty looking as well. I like the line Born, Clarks and several others. I do miss, because od my disease being able to wear gorgeous heels, but try to look at pretty shoes with stability and cushion. Another brand that is stylish but very well cushioned to go on a trip is Allegria. I like the ballet shoes you show

  11. Janet Keyser says:

    I recently purchased a pair of sandals from Rockport. They are wonderful, very comfortable, and stylish! They are called: “Truewalkzero”…

  12. My pet peeve and despair of human intelligence is shoes! Having been hard to fit ALL my life because my feet are wide made me think and shake my head.. I used to always buy BOYS shoes to get wide enough for me. But dressy? Had to have SOME more dressy stuff.. and in my 40’s oh yes, I began to get a BUNION.

    I used to buy shoes too LONG for me in order to get wider fit. And STILL got a bunion going.

    Then the internet came along and I discovered that I did not need size 8 1/2 shoes but only 7 1/2 WW. Oh bliss. Oh heaven. BUT… still, too many shoes with the over-rounded toe boxes!

    Go ahead, trace your unspoiled grandchild’s foot.. it is NOT shaped like typical shoe’s toe boxes are. No, they are more duck-like! Yet from the time they grow out of toddler’s shoes, we cram our feet into rounded toes.
    And make podiatrists RICH.

    Women, revolt. We are not ancient China. We should be beyond foot deforming for “fashion”.
    Try LEMS shoes. Try a new brand, name of “Hotter”. Try Propet, Drew, Dansko can be pretty good too if only they would lose the toe spring bit. Crocs… oh yes, crocs.

    Lets’ stop the madness and creating new business for Podiatrists. I stopped my bunion in it’s tracks with proper shoes. I’m on a campaign to save the feet of my grandkids. Already, one of their fathers pitches fits at the one kid who kicks off her shoes saying OUCH.. the dad says OH stop that put them on they FIT.. NO dad they DO not.
    LOL sorry but I don’t believe we should ruin our feet and with the internet and good shoes, we do not have to!

    Try the above named brands if you have anything sore going on with your feet. You just might need W I D E not larger size!

  13. I just got back from 2 weeks in Spain and Portugal, doing a lot of city hiking, and I have finally found the ideal travel walking shoe for me, the Keen Toyah. It is a leather sneaker-type shoe, but understated and doesn’t make you look like you are headed for the gym. Mine were brown suede, but they come in different attractive colors of leather and suede. They might not be ideal in hot weather if your feet tend to get hot and sweat, but I prefer a sturdy enclosed shoe that can accommodate my custom orthotics. I wore them with my orthotics and cushioned Smartwool hiking socks. My feet felt great even when the rest of me started to drag. I have yet to find a Mary Jane or ballerina that provides the kind of support I need for the way I punish my feet on vacation, and I have tried a lot. So, I will stick with my Keens and wear pants rather then skirts.

  14. I LOVE those Lite Mary Janes especially that gray/mint combination. Great picks!

  15. ..wow. i like it!! simple shoes and comfortable.. .

  16. I’m super comfortable walking everywhere in my Teva flip flops. They have fabric, criss-cross straps and stay in place without any problems.

  17. Rochelle Worthing says:

    I walked all over London and Paris in my Merrell slides. They were the only shoes that worked for me.

  18. I have to say this article made me a little sad. Apparently I am the ONLY woman over 40 in the world who can’t wear flats and would really appreciate if some shoemaker, somewhere, made a stylish looking walking shoe with a good support and at least an inch heel.

    • There are some quite nice wedge heeled walking shoes available. I don’t recommend anything that looks like a sports shoes for a European holiday, especially if you intend to eat in stylish cafes or hotels. Better to wear something with sports shoe support and a dress shoe outside

    • Suzanne B says:

      I can’t wear them either. In fact all the wearing I did of flats when I was younger has created the pain I am in now. I need a solid arch and a rich amount of heel cushioning because without it I feel as if my feet were broken.