A good walking shoe for Europe should be comfortable from the get-go. It needs to be snug enough so that your foot doesn’t slip out but not so tight that it rubs. Don’t go with a too snug fit, hoping that it will stretch out with wear. Chances are, it won’t. No one wants to ruin their European vacation trying to break in a pair of too-tight shoes!
Many over 40 women must also address bunions, neuromas, prior injuries, and other foot and ankle issues. These can make finding a comfortable walking shoe for European travel more challenging—but not impossible!
Length and Width: When considering fit, think about the width of the walking shoes just as much as the length. If you don’t have enough room at the sides of your feet, you’re opening yourself up to issues. These include calluses, bruised toenails, heel blisters, and bunions.
When it comes to length, make sure you have roughly a half-inch between the end of your longest toe and the shoe. You should be able to wiggle your toes in your shoes.
Toe and Heel Room: If you try on a lot of shoes and still aren’t sure about the fit, try these two tests.
Walk down an incline and purposely try and push your toes into the very front of your shoes. Your toes should stay snug. Over time as the shoes loosen and widen, your toes will move down. If they do now, don’t buy them.
Try the opposite test too. Walk up some stairs two at a time. If your heel lifts off the bottom of the shoe more than 1/8″, then don’t buy the shoe. That’s how you get blisters.
Look for Lightweight, Flexible Walking Shoes
You don’t hit the ground with the same amount of impact when you’re walking compared to when you’re running. That’s why walking shoes should be more flexible and lightweight than running shoes. This lets you walk across most surfaces with ease. That’s something that you’ll appreciate when you’re walking along cobblestone streets or amongst archeological ruins.
To test how flexible a walking shoe is, hold the shoe up by the heel and toe and bend the toe up. The shoe should bend right under the ball of the foot.
Next, twist the sole of the shoe from side to side. You should feel some light to moderate resistance. Too floppy means no support. The best walking shoes for European travel will have enough integrity to carry you for miles!
Arch Support Is Key
Arch support is important to reduce muscle strain, maintain balance and prevent conditions like Plantar Fasciitis, a common cause of heel pain. The most comfortable shoes for walking in Europe are designed to provide support particular to the type of arch you have, whether it be a high, neutral, or low arch.
Since arch support is specific to the individual, it’s best to work with a knowledgeable salesperson to make sure your new walking shoe is right for you. One idea is to bring in an old pair of shoes you currently own so the person helping you can look at wear patterns and show you walking best suited to how you wear your shoes.
It gets very hot pounding the pavement shopping and sightseeing, so make sure you take a shoe that breathes. Your feet are going to be in those walking shoes from early morning to night, which means things can get pretty sweaty.
Think about the material the shoe is made of (natural fibers breathe better than synthetic). Does it have vents? Mesh can help, as well as an open vamp.
The right fit also makes them more breathable. If shoes are too tight, your feet will tend to sweat more.
Padding Is Important
Padding and cushioning keep your feet comfortable and can prevent bruised toenails and blisters. That said, comfortable shoes for European travel balance padding with flexibility. You may have to try on plenty of shoes before you find one that strikes a good balance. Don’t be afraid to try aftermarket insoles if needed.
You never know what kind of weather you are going to run into when you travel, so a waterproof shoe that has sturdy soles and waterproof uppers is a winning shoe, hands down.
Best Time to Buy Walking Shoes
- Since our feet tend to swell during the day, do your try on towards the end of the day when your feet are the widest. You’ll get the most accurate picture of how a walking shoe will fit.
- Be sure to have both feet measured, and if they are different, go with the bigger size.
- If you plan to wear your walking shoes for your Europe trip with socks, make sure you try them on with socks or sock liners.
As the search for a perfect pair of jeans takes time, getting a walking shoe with a great fit takes a few tries too. You need to test a variety of shoes. March yourself into a store. 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.
Best Walking Shoes For Touring Europe : Mary Janes
Mary Jane styles are hugely popular for travel, especially after 40, when balance and reaction times aren’t as good as they used to be. The strap across the top of the foot gives a secure fit on cobblestones and uneven ground. That means there’s less chance of slipping out of our shoes and falling or twisting ankles. Let’s take a look at some of the bestselling Mary Janes.
Want Something Tried and True?
Experts at the Mayo Clinic agree that a pair of comfortable, well-fitting walking shoes is the secret to successful walking. Doctors suggest a fairly lightweight shoe with good shock absorption. The Ecco BIOM lite Mary Jane, weighing in at a mere 7 ounces, is known as one of the best walking shoes for Europe.
One traveler reported walking in this shoe for three weeks in Italy, often without socks, with no blisters or other discomforts. Tiny air holes by the toes keep things cool. As for the look, it’s very modern in this pewter color, but also comes in black, which never gets dirty!
Sweat a Lot?
One step up from the shoe we just looked at is the Ecco Bluma Mary Jane. It’s nice because it has mesh inserts on the top of the shoe. They allow for more breathability on those long site-seeing days. I like the look of the mixed materials, too.
Need a Refined Mary Jane?
Here’s a similar style to the first two, only more refined and formal. This is the Dansko Edith Mary Jane. It’s less sporty and more refined than the first two. it is better for after-five events where you would wear dressier pants and casual dresses.
Want Something More Fashion Forward?
Another offering from Ecco, along the same lines as all of the above but with a zig-zag strap, is the Ecco Lynx Mary Jane. It comes in black, plus a warm gray metallic. 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 pair of walking shoes for your Europe trip.
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.
It’s a sporty ballerina flat that is very comfy and attractive. Many tourists report they love these types of open-top shoes, as the traditional runner-top styles are hot and not as flexible on the foot.. If you like dark shoes, they come in black too.
More Walking Shoes
Besides Mary Janes, hundreds of stylish walking shoes are available.Is there one you would consider wearing into Versace on the Via Venetto? How about into Fabregé on the Rue Saint Honoré? Let’s look at some more options:
ECCO Angel Bow Ballerina Flat
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 European travel that they could wear both day and night. They wore them to walk extensively in Paris, Nice, Madrid, and rural Spain.
Thesecute walking shoes for Europe work well with pants, skirts, and jeans. This cognac color is lovely, but it also comes in green, black gray and dark coral.
Comfy Dance-Like Walking Shoes
If you’re ready to go really out of the box, look into barefoot running and walking. They have been researched extensively and shown to naturally improve your gait and carriage.These specialty shoes can help you 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 are also one of the best walking shoes for European travel. . Wearers call them “a tetanus-free and socially acceptable way of appearing barefoot in public.”
Sneaker Walking Shoe
If you really just want a good old-fashioned pair of sneakers, then here’s a suggestion for a modern version. It’s the Biom Lite Slip-on Sneaker.
Perforated Sneakers – My New Favorite Walking Shoes with Great Arch Support
I bought these Cobb Hill shoes, 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 coral, black, this pretty blue, and taupe, which is the color I have.
Classic Preppy Walking Shoe with Modern Appeal
Finally, a more traditional option is this cute and very lightweight Skechers GOwalk shoe.. 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 best walking shoes for Europe? I’d love to know.
Here are a few more brands that make stylish, comfortable walking shoes for travel.
*This article from guest contributor: Alice Ann Toole.
More interested in sandals? Then check out my post on comfy walking sandals.
Or, if you are a creative type looking for a travel shoe that is a little more creative, check out this post on funky travel shoes.