Picking the correct travel shoes is one of the most important (and most frustrating) parts of traveling to Europe. I still struggle with it — But don’t worry because in this guide I help you choose the best shoes for traveling.
UPDATE: I’ve also included my travel footwear recommendations for both women and men.
Quick Tips For Picking Comfortable Shoes For Travel
Between living in NYC and spending a lot of time exploring Europe, I know first-hand that comfortable shoes make traveling much more enjoyable. You’ll easily walk 5-10 miles a day when exploring a city… even spending a few hours at a museum can be killer on your feet.
So treat your feet well.
Here are a few things to consider when evaluating your shoes:
- Comfort Beats Fashion (Always): It doesn’t matter how cute your shoes are — if they’re uncomfortable, they’re staying at home. One bad blister or aching feet can truly ruin your day.
- Quality Socks: People spend a lot of money on shoes but then throw on a pair of cheap socks — we’ve found that quality socks are just as important as the shoes.
- Quality socks will help prevent blisters, stop odor, and keep your feet comfortable. For more information about socks, be sure to read about our favorite socks for travel.
- Support & Insoles: Every foot is different so we’ve found that adding a nice pair of insoles can make shoes, flats, and boots much more comfortable.
- Match Shoes To Destination: Matching shoes to your destination is an important consideration — especially when you’re traveling in rainy, snowy, or non-city destinations.
- For example — A pair of flats isn’t appropriate for trekking through Iceland, and a pair of heavy-duty mountaineering boots probably is overkill for walking the streets of Paris.
- Break In Your Shoes: BREAK IN YOUR SHOES! A lot of people forget this critical step because even the most comfortable shoes can cause blisters during the first couple wearings. We recommend wearing your shoes for a couple weeks before your trip.
- Versatile Shoes: Depending on your travel style, you’ll want to limit the number of shoes you bring. We rarely travel with more than two pairs so make sure your shoes look good in a variety of settings.
Tips for Buying Shoes Online
Buying shoes online can be a bit tricky since all brands seem to fit a little differently. I almost exclusively order shoes from Zappos if I’m buying online. They give you get free delivery (which is often one or two-day shipping) and free returns.
If you’re not sure which size to buy, we suggest buying two sizes and then returning the pair that doesn’t fit. Zappos gives you a pre-paid return label and will refund your money within about 7 days — they make the process super easy.
The Best Travel Shoes By Category
To make things easier, we’ve divided this guide into sneakers, walking shoes, boots, sandals, flats, etc. — each section has footwear recommendations for both men and women. Feel free to jump around as needed.
The Best Sporty Casual Sneakers For Travel
Yes, you can wear sneakers when you travel without looking like a “tourist”. In fact, a cool-looking pair of sneakers is our preferred travel shoe in most cases. Luckily, there are a ton of fashionable options available these days but here are a few of our favorites.
Note: Some of the more “minimalist” shoes might benefit from insoles.
Women’s Casual Sneakers
We’re really digging Allbirds shoes for travel. They’re sneakers but they’re made of wool — which sounds kind of weird but it actually works well. These shoes are super comfortable and you can wear them without socks (one of the benefits of wool is odor prevention). They are crazy lightweight so they’re easy to pack away. They come in multiple colors and cost $95. Available via Allbirds.
Read our Allbirds Review if you want more information.
We were recently in Madrid and we saw a ton of European men and women wearing Adidas Superstars. They were seriously everywhere. Zappos has multiple styles and colors — plus they’re fairly affordable.
We’ve also noticed a huge rise in the popularity of New Balance shoes throughout Europe — we’ve seen everything from neutral to super bright colors. We’ve loved New Balance shoes for a long time so we’re happy they’re popular in Europe as well. Check out Zappos to see the various color options (there are a lot!).
As of course there is Nike — which is always a popular shoe choice for being fashionable and comfortable.
BENSIMON sneakers are a very popular and fashionable casual sneaker in France. You’ll see tons of trendy Parisians wearing them during the summer. They are available in dozens of colors and styles, but it can be a little difficult to find the full range of styles and colors in the US.
We don’t think you can have them shipped outside France from their website, but there are a few retailers who carry them in the US.
Sperry Top-Siders look great with shorts, capris, skirts, and jeans, making them super versatile. They are a good option for the spring or summer.
Everyone knows about TOMS shoes, and they are great shoes for travel because they are comfortable, lightweight, and cute. These are a great option for urban travel during the spring and summer. They’re not the most rugged shoes so they’re better suited for shorter periods of wear.
Men’s Casual Sneakers
Just about every athletic shoe brand has a line of casual sneakers — especially leather shoes which look good during the day and at night. Check out Nike, New Balance, Puma, Adidas, and Creative Recreation.
We have also seen multiple Europeans wearing Adidas Ultra Boost — these seem to be the “it” shoes right now. A ton of people sing the praises of Adidas Ultra Boost for being the most comfortable shoes they’ve even worn.
We’re really digging Allbirds shoes for travel. They’re sneakers but they’re made of wool — which sounds kind of weird but it actually works well. These shoes are super comfortable and you can wear them without socks (one of the benefits of wool is odor prevention). And they are crazy lightweight so they’re easy to pack away. They come in multiple colors and cost $95. Available via Allbirds.
Allbirds has greatly expanded their shoe offerings to include shoes made of eucalyptus pulp instead of wool so they’re a bit breezier than their wool shoes — check them out here.
We’ve written a more in-depth Allbirds Review if you want to learn more.
New Balance is another very great brand that you’ll see all over Europe. We’ve been wearing them for years so it’s nice to see Europeans discovering them as well.
We’re big fans of the New Balance Classics because they have great retro style, but still offer the comfort of a running shoe. I’ve seen similar shoes in many stores and boutiques in Paris and Barcelona so you’ll see plenty of Europeans wearing these.
Athletic Walking & Running Shoes For Travel
Full-on athletic running/walking shoes will likely be the most comfortable option for exploring the streets of Europe. These might not be the most fashionable option but we’ve started noticing a lot more Europeans starting to wear them.
Women’s Athletic Shoes
If you’re looking for a comfortable athletic shoe that has a bit of a lower profile, check out the Nike Flex, Nike Free, New Balance Arishi, Adidas Running and Adidas Originals series. All of these are sporty and fashionable.
The Allbirds Tree Dashers 2 is the most advanced running shoe offered by Allbirds so it offers the brand’s most support and the greatest amount of cushioning. They’re super comfortable and they come in multiple colors.
Men’s Athletic Shoes
Waterproof Trekking/Hiking Shoes For Travel
Trekking/hiking shoes look a bit like beefed-up athletic running shoes and they’re designed for long hikes. This style of hiking shoe is a popular choice for many travelers because they offer a lot of support, they are generally lightweight, and most are waterproof/weather resistant — which is a huge plus.
Unfortunately, it is pretty tough to find a “fashionable” pair, but these are probably your best all-around option if you travel during the snowy/rainy months or if you plan on spending a lot of time in the countryside.
NOTE: Weather-resistant shoes (as opposed to “waterproof”) should be sufficient for most travelers.
Women’s Waterproof/Weather Resistant Hiking Shoes
Ok, these Fresh Foam Gobi V2 – Protect Pack from New Balance are technically “trail runners” but they’re highly water-resistant and nice looking. We could totally rock these in Europe.
Keen is another brand known for being comfortable. These Keen Presidio shoes get rave reviews for their mix of hiking shoe durability and sneaker looks. Plus, they are waterproof, so this is a good option if you want a rugged shoe that is suitable for city travel. I also like the Keen Utility Detroit and Keen Arroyo II because they get excellent reviews for comfort, but they do have a more utilitarian look.
Merrell is a great brand and well. Their Moab line of shoes and boots come in multiple styles — including many waterproof options. We also like the Merrell Siren Hex Q2 Waterproof, and the Merrell All Out Blaze 2 Waterproof. Merrell makes a ton of shoes so check out their page on Zappos to see them all.
Men’s Waterproof/Weather Resistant Hiking Shoes
We’ve always been big fans of New Balance. We think they make some of the most fashionable rugged and waterproof hiking shoes — so you won’t look out of place while exploring the city. The 910v3 GORE-TEX is a waterproof athletic trail running shoe that we are digging. We also like the Fresh Foam Gobi V2 – Protect Pack (which is technically only “water-resistant” but it should handle rainy days without much issue).
These Nike Free RN Shield shoes are water-resistant so they’re a nice option if you want sneakers that can be worn in the rain but still look cool.
Merrell makes a wide range of comfortable hiking shoes, and many of them are waterproof — which is nice if you travel to rainy climates. The Merrell Moab Waterproof and the Moab Vent (a great summer option) get top marks for comfort and support. The Merrell Chameleon 4 is a low-profile option that is comfortable and sturdy but still looks decent in an urban environment.
Keen makes some of the most comfortable and durable hiking shoes. The Keen Austin is waterproof, supportive, and it has good looks. The Keen Arroyo II, Targhee II, and the Keen Voyageur are three other comfortable options that are a bit more utilitarian.
Hiking Boots For Travel
Hiking boots will offer good support and will keep your feet comfortable on long walks, but they might be overkill for most city travel since they are heavy and bulky. Most travelers would be better off using lightweight hiking shoes but boots might be a good idea if you’re traveling in the winter or if you like the boot aesthetic.
Women’s Hiking Boots
These Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped boots get a lot of love and they’re affordable.
Men’s Hiking Boots
Timberland White Ledge Mid Waterproof is a nice-looking boot that will serve you well in the winter. The Merrell Moab Mid GORE-TEX® XCR is a little more “outdoorsy” but it gets good reviews for comfort. The Danner Jags and the Danner Mountain 600 are two classic hiking boots with old-school style.
The Adidas Terrex Free Hiker is a cross between a running shoe and a hiking boot. Loving all these new hybrids. We actually discovered these from an Instagram ad… and we might buy a pair (technology is scary!). Check them out on Zappos.
Casual Boots For Travel
Casual boots are nice because they are more fashionable than sneakers/athletic shoes, but they are often still comfortable. We prefer dark leather (since it will hide dirt stains well — especially in the winter), but suede can be perfectly fine in the summer.
Make sure you break in your boots for 2-3 weeks before your trip since boots require a longer break-in period.
Women’s Casual Boots
The Clarks Desert Boots are a nice lightweight and fashionable option that work well for the summer and look great with skinny jeans. These are best suited for the summer since they’re not waterproof. I’d also recommend using an insole.
Chelsea boots are another great style of boot for travel because they are super easy to take off — which is great at airports. And they look cool, too. We think these Blunderstone BL585 and Frye Chelsea boots look great and they get good reviews, but there are plenty of other styles/brands available.
Blondo receives rave reviews for their boots — and many of them are waterproof so they’re great for rainy weather. They’re also fashionable if you’re trying to dress up your outfit. We’re digging their Villa Waterproof Bootie.
Men’s Casual Boots
Clarks Desert Boots have been a classic boot for over 40 years and they’re still just as cool as ever — plus they come in multiple colors. We like these Cole Haan Chukka boots and Timberland Davis Square Plain Toe Chukka because they’re both fashionable and comfortable. Borne also makes these slightly “dressy” Nigel Boots which are super comfortable.
Another nice travel boot is the Blundstone BL550. These leather boots are comfortable, stylish, and rugged. The BL550 doesn’t have laces, so they are super easy to put on/remove, which is incredibly nice if you’re going to be flying a lot. Blundstone makes a lot of different models, so I suggest searching for other styles.
Best Travel Flats
Flats are a great option for city travel because they are lightweight, comfortable, and can be casual or dressy. Black or brown is the most practical color choice. Many flats don’t provide a lot of support, so it is advisable to add an insole to help improve comfort.
Born makes a lot of cute and conformable flats. The Born Julianne is one of their most popular models because they look great, provide decent arch support, and come in multiple colors. Born also has many other styles of flats that come in cool metallic or snakeskin finishes.
If fashion is a top priority, these Cole Haan flats might be the perfect flat since they’re known for providing a lot of extra cushioning. They have multiple colors available, but we would stick with the patent leather options.
Merrell is known for making great hiking shoes, but they do make a few more stylish flats.
Sandals are great in warm weather and there are multiple styles available — from dressy to sporty. Unsurprisingly, the “fancier” sandals tend to have less support than the sporty versions — so keep that in mind.
Chaco is known for making some of the best hiking sandals. You won’t find these on the runway, but if you want excellent support these might be your best bet — whether you’re doing off-road hiking or exploring Europe’s cobblestone streets.
It might sound strange, but Crocs actually makes a few pairs of nice-looking sandals. The Crocs Sexi Flip is chic, minimalist, and comfortable and the Isabella T-Strap also gets a lot of love. Plus, they weigh just a few ounces so they will hardly add any weight to your bag.
Birkenstocks are the quintessential “comfortable” sandal. They make multiple models so look around to see if any look good to you.
Naot is another brand that’s famous for making super comfortable sandals.
Insoles for Travel
The Best Travel Footwear Brands
Not seeing any shoes on this list that look interesting? Here’s a list of our favorite brands that are known for making excellent and comfortable shoes.
ECCO: ECCO makes a range of high-quality and comfortable shoes, boots, sandals, sneakers, dress shoes for both men and women. Most of their shoes are leather so there are a lot of solid casual yet fashionable options. See their full catalog on Zappos.
Clarks: Founded in 1825, Clarks is an English shoe brand that is known for making quality shoes, boots, and sandals. They became famous for their classic dessert boots (I own two pairs, myself) but they make a wide range of footwear options — especially casual leather sneakers, boots, and flats. See their full catalog on Zappos.
Born: Born is another brand that receives a lot of love for its comfort and craftsmanship. They make a wide range of footwear but they’re most known for their women’s flats and sandals. View their full catalog on Zappos.
Keen: Keen has traditionally been an outdoors footwear company that made quality but kinda ugly footwear… but they’ve started to make more casual and stylish options (without losing their outdoorsy performance). View their full catalog on Zappos.
Allbirds: Allbirds have exploded in popularity and they’ve been dubbed the “world’s most comfortable shoes.” While we’re not so sure about that claim, we can confirm that these are comfy. Plus, they’re super lightweight so they make a great “second pair” of shoes that can you easily pack into your bag.
Adidas: Adidas will never go out of style and you’ll see people of all ages rocking them all over Europe. We prefer sticking to their classic/retro options since they’re the most versatile but you do you. See their full catalogue on Zappos.
Nike: You’ll also see people rocking their Nikes all across Europe. I know that I do. That said, we recommend sticking with their retro or fashion-forward sneakers instead of their overly “athletic” shoes. See their full catalogue on Zappos.
New Balance: New Balance essentially makes two types of shoes — dorky dad/grandpa shoes and ultra-cool colorful shoes. Stick with the cool ones and you’ll fit right in with the other fashion-forward Europeans. See their full catalog on Zappos.
Foot Care Advice
Sometimes, even with the best shoes, your feet will get a bit sore and banged up after walking for hours on end. So here are a few things you might want to pack in case your tootsies need a little extra TLC.
- Blister Bandages: We always throw in a few blister bandages into our toiletry kit. These things can be a lifesaver. Check out Amazon for various options.
- Quality Socks: We motioned it before but nice socks make a world of difference. We prefer wool or wool/synthetic blends. SmartWool Run Ultralight are great for summer and their taller socks are great for cooler weather.
- Foot Powder: Putting on a little foot powder before you head out each day will drastically reduce sweat and odor. Check Amazon as there are multiple options out there.
- O’Keeffe’s Foot Cream: Pamper your feet — especially if you wear sandals often. O’Keeffe’s is the best-rated option on Amazon.
- Keep Nails Trimmed: Long nails can cause a lot of toe pain so pack a pair of nail clippers.
- Switch Up Shoes: We prefer to have a day-on-day-off wearing schedule with our shoes when we’re putting a lot of miles on shoes.
More Packing Tips
But wait… there’s more! We have other articles to help you choose what to pack when you travel.
No Funny Business
The Savvy Backpacker is reader-supported. That means when you buy product/services through links on the site, I may earn an affiliate commission — it doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support the site.
Thanks For Reading! — James