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?
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.
If you like a wider band try the High Point Mary Jane Flat. That shoe isn’t coming off with that strap!!
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 Dansko Hazel which is perfect for this time of year because 1) it is suede 2) it comes in 3 great colors – wine, blue suede, and black suede.
This wine would be my choice! It’s a nice change from black, but still pretty dark to go with my fall clothes. I also like it because it is a tiny different too with the multiple straps compared to most walking shoes.
Don’t Like Straps? – How about these?
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 that 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!
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 black open top flat walking shoe? Try these
2. Slightly Dressy Walking Shoe
One strap: Here’s a big seller! The Merrell Dassie. Stores can’t keep this shoe in stock. It’s a favorite. 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.
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.
4. Comfy Dance-Like Walking Shoes
If you’re ready to really really 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.
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.”
I also recently came across these Norwich flats by Softwalk which I have not tried but thought were super cute. They have a signature cushioned footbed and a flexible slip-resistant sole. They sound good, and I love the harvest gold color!
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.
6. Cobb Hill – My Favorites with Great Arch Support
I bought these Cobb Hill shoes, this summer, and I LOVE them. I never knew shoes could be so comfy. I’ve worn them everywhere because they are just so darn cushiony and comfy. The style is sporty- chic and right on trend with the perforated suede, which also keeps my feet cool. Highly recommend! They also come in a beautiful salmon color, blue, taupe, pale minty green and black.
7. Classic Preppy Walking Shoe
Finally, a more traditional option is this cute and very lightweight Skechers GOwalk shoe is very popular. I own a pair of GOwalks and what I like most is that they are so light you feel like you are not even wearing shoes. I guess that is why they are also called Barefoot shoes.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 cotton pants. These also come in a lovely charcoal shade.
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.
More interested in sandals? Then check out my post on comfy walking sandals.
or, if you a creative type looking for a travel shoe that is a little more creative, check out this post on funky travel shoes.