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 discomforts.
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.
As 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 with the right 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 a zig zag strap is the Ecco Lynx Mary Jane Flat which comes in 2 practical colors- black and taupe. The light sole on this black one is nice for summer- not so heavy looking on your foot. I like this shoe because it looks soft like a glove, and the zig zag strap makes it a little fashion-forward and modern. This is a very sporty shoe.
2. 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 Ecco Biom Lite Ballerina Flat – a sporty ballerina flat that is very comfy and attractive. 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. If you like a dark shoe, they come in black too.
3. 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.
4. 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. This cognac color is lovely, but it also comes in gray, black and a dark coral.
5. Comfy Dance-Like Walking Shoes
If you’re ready to go really out of the box, barefoot running and walking have been researched extensively and been 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.”
Below is the Vivobarefoot Jing Jing. It’s also available in brown suede, black leather, raspberry lace and cream suede. 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. They come in gray, coral or black nubuck with rose lining.
6. Perforated Sneakers – 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 with Modern Appeal
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.