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Best Shoe Combination for UK & Ireland in Summer

I like traveling light, carry on only. Traveling with one pair of shoes is great but unrealistic; two pairs might be ideal; three is still doable. With four pairs, I think I could do it all, but that seems excessive for packing "light." For three summer weeks in Switzerland, which involved city sightseeing and long, technical hikes in the alps, I brought three pairs: hiking/walking sandals (also can be used in showers/bathrooms instead of flip flops), comfy/cute sneakers (for sightseeing), and hiking boots (a must for me in the Alps!). It rained quite a bit, so I ended up wearing the waterproof hiking boots for sightseeing in cities instead of sneakers as planned.

My question is this: What is your opinion of the ideal combination of two or three pairs of shoes for the UK and Ireland in the summer? We'll be doing sightseeing, short hikes and lots and lots of walking, from London and Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands and Ireland's west coast. We're not into fancy restaurants or nightlife, so I won't need to dress up. ("If I can't wear sneakers and jeans, I'm not going!")

A pair of hiking shoes is a must. I'm thinking something lightweight yet waterproof that are sort of a running shoe - hiking boot hybrid, like Keen Terradora or Ahnu Sugarpine both of which I think would be less clunky looking than my trusty hiking boots for sightseeing in cities.

My choices for a second and maybe even third pair are these:
Teva sneakers - very comfy and got me all over Switzerland, but canvas and therefore not waterproof. At home, I live in these sneakers spring through fall!

and/or

Teva ankle boots - a more style-conscious option for sightseeing in rainy cities and towns - waterproof, comfy for walking all day, rugged enough for hiking.... but a little on the heavy side. At home, I wear these everyday in the winter (also fall and spring).

and/or

Hiking sandals - for warm days, though I'm not a huge sandal wearer (my feet are always cold!) But I have been thankful to have them for sketchy showers and unexpectedly hot days. Would it be foolish to travel in the summer without any type of sandal?

What combination of the above do you recommend? Thanks!

Posted by
5017 posts

I can not imagine schlepping four sets of footwear on such a trip. I'm headed for Ireland and the Faroe Islands this summer, and I'll be bring two kinds of footwear, grudgingly: a pair of sneakers for everyday, and a pair of lightweight (but waterproof) hiking boots. I'm expecting at least some rain (sometimes a lot) in either/both western Ireland and all over the Faroes, and we do plan to do some hiking (even if it's raining hard those days, we're going out in it) so I can't get away with just the usual light sneakers.

Four? I'd have to leave out too much other critical stuff to justify packing 4 sets of footwear. You gotta draw the line somewhere!

Posted by
11676 posts

Ah, David, you do not understand women and the shoe thing.

And since our feet are smaller and the shoes lighter and less sturdy, we can easily fit two (or three) pair in the luggage, and wear another.

My standard shoe trio for trips that include both serious mountain hiking and city walks includes my Salomon Alp-X hiking shoes (low cut, not ankle boots); a pair of suede “city sneakers (Lowa Palermo, discontinued), and a pair of Dansko sandals for dressier occasions and hot days. And I usually add another pair of sandals for beach/water shoe use, just because.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks, Lola, that's basically what I do as well.

I agree that four is too many! Two or three is perfect. I meant that at home, not traveling, four pairs gets me through just about every situation and season.

For travel, my first choice is a light hiking shoe. The choices for a second (and maybe third, at most) pair(s) for a drizzly summer trip are between a canvas sneaker, casual ankle boot and hiking/walking sandal. Just trying to decide which shoe gets the coveted "second shoe" spot and which one (or two) get left at home!

Posted by
448 posts

I'll offer something a little out there but has worked for me - croc sandals. They're are several styles that are stylish, has decent cushioning and are extremely lightweight. My two favorites are the various Cleo models and the Sanrah. I spent several days in Provence doing light walking in my pink Cleos and have worn the Sanrahs both to the pool and dinner. Avoid the Swiftwater styles as the insole is too thin.

They're a good "just in case" if you aren't sure about needing warm weather shoes. In June in the UK and Ireland I've had everything from cold drizzly days to record heat waves.

Posted by
5017 posts

Ah, David, you do not understand women and the shoe thing.

Guilty as charged, I'm first to admit that. Bless everyone no matter what fashion/packing choices they make.
We live and die by the airlines' baggage requirements.

Posted by
431 posts

I'm not really into hiking but i will bring a water resistant tennis shoe to Ireland. I usually bring something to go out in at night, and slippers. My feet get cold at night. If I were you, I think I would go with the hiking shoes (Keens), and either the Tevas or sandles. Look at the weather, right before you leave and decide then. It has been "hot", as in 80's in Ireland the past few years. Also, since it doesn't get that hot there, not everyplace you go will have AC.

Posted by
375 posts

I would check the weather right before I left and depending on the forecast, take either the Chocos or the ankle boots. Although more stylish, the boots just take up more room than I would like. Alternatively, if you are planning on buying any shoes, I would opt for something that would combine the hiking shoe and the sneaker. Something like the Ahnu sugar venture. Waterproof, sneaker style and sufficiently sturdy to do day hikes that aren’t very technical. Then I could wear the ankle boots on the plane and pack the Ahnus and the chocos.

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks, Mary and Kclyons, I appreciate the input! The ankle boots are heavier than I thought they were - almost the same as a regular pair of solid hiking boots! I'll check the weather and only bring them if it looks like it will be really rainy.

Posted by
2081 posts

I just bought the most fabulous pair of ankle boots for my upcoming trip to the Baltic states and Budapest--they are by Pikolinos, a Spanish brand (Nordstrom or Zappos), style is called Vicar, both a Chelsea and lace-up style. They are quality, well-made boots, lightweight but sturdy, with a cushy gel insole and needed no breaking in--I've worn them on a few 3 mile hikes so far and my feet were ever so happy--plus, they suit my personal style, very cute with skinny jeans. My usual size is 8-8.5 and they fit in my usual euro size 39 with a pair of medium Smartwool socks. I got black, and my second pair of shoes will be some Ecco Soft 7 leather sneaker/oxfords in a caramel color--again size 39. I have 4 pairs of them, they are fabulous and very comfy--also suits my personal style. I am not a sandal wearer, so this combo of footwear is typical for any of my trips to Europe.https://shop.nordstrom.com/s/pikolinos-vicar-boot-women/4957165?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&breadcrumb=Home%2FAll%20Results&color=black%20leather

Posted by
15 posts

Thanks, Christa! Your boot and sneaker combo is similar to what I've done on other trips and it works well. Thanks for the input!