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Best shoes for walking in EU

Never wear seekers/athletic shoes when visiting EU because you will be walking on a lot of cobblestone streets and seekers/athletic shoes do net have the necessary high quantity cushioning needed to protect your feet on these rough stone roads. Over the course of five decades of EU travel, here are the shoes I've found should be used in EU. #1: any shoe with the classic Vibram sole. Cabelas has some & all Rockport Walkers used to-- my most recent pair of Rockport walkers do not have the good Vibram soles. #2 Natural Balance high end walking shoes. I've only recently started wearing these, but I suspect they may rival the Vibram, #3 Sketchers high end walking shoes-- super comfortable and meet the minimum needs of protection from cobblestones.

On top of that, all these shoes are more comfortable for a lot of walking than are seekers/athletic shoes.

Posted by
2515 posts

when you say EU I presume you mean the whole of Europe especially these places that still retain much of their older areas hence the cobbles.
I would agree on Vibram soled shoes most of my walking boots/shoes have this type of sole though they can be a bit slippy on wet cobbles but generally they are very good and very hard wearing. I tend to use HiTec shoes and boots though not exclusively but good thick soled shoes are needed for most walking. Must admit I have never had Sketchers shoes and I have looked at them but just not for me ,I might be persuaded if someone gave me a free pair.

Posted by
4368 posts

What an odd post. How can you apply such advice of a plethora of countries comprising almost an entire continent? That's like saying never wear trainers in the US because you might have some stability problems crossing the Rockies or Sierra Nevada. I've been living in England for 43 years and travelled within the EU for a great deal of that time, for the most part I'm wearing trainers (sneakers) or if not either a smart pair of boots/shoes, flip flops or some comfy, thin soled, breatheable slip ons. The only time I wear hiking shoes is when I'm doing some serious hill walking. Not once have I had any difficulty traversing roads, pavements or streets anywhere in Europe, cobblestone or not.

Posted by
361 posts

Comfort and utility are a big factor, but I’ve always gone with ECCO brand shoes not just for travel but also as what I tend to wear most every day at home and around town. Style is a big factor - if they’re the only pair of shoes I’m taking on a trip, I want them to not just be comfortable and durable but also be shoes that would look as good at a restaurant for dinner as they would when strolling through a church or down the street. A leather (either real or in appearance, instead of mesh), dark monochrome (either black or brown). That’s the main reason I avoid sneakers or athletic shoes, though it’s all down to personal preference and what someone sees themselves doing when traveling abroad.

Incidentally I remember thinking Rick Steves’ shoes looked a lot like a pair of ECCO shoes I have and ended up coming across a blog post that confirmed it. He mentioned using the Track series.

Posted by
971 posts

Actually the European Parlament and most of the other EU buildings located in the modern part if Bruxelles, whereas most of the cobblestones are in the old part of the city. So cobblestones shouldnt be a problem when visiting the EU. Not sure if they have a dress code though.

Posted by
56 posts

I’m wearing my running shoes. In fact I just bought a new pair for my trip. I’m breaking them in now. My Running shoes are designed for all types of weather including rain and the soles are thick and cushioned for long hours of standing and walking. The tread can handle multiple terrains. If I look like an America it is because I am an American who doesn’t want sore feet. If anyone gets offended by what I’m wearing, let them be offended and ruin their day b/c they are not going to ruin my day or trip. To each his own!

Posted by
649 posts

ONe simply cannot make generalizations like this. Shoes are critical on a Rick Steves tour so the traveler must know, long in advance, what works for them.

The only important factors when deciding which shoes to wear when traveling (anywhere, not just in Europe) are that the shoes or boots will work on varying terrain, protect one’s feet on rough and unpredictable surfaces, and not damage one’s feet after extended mileage. The only way for one to know these things is to have shoes one has worn for many miles, under a wide variety of conditions, and can therefore trust absolutely.

My walking shoe of choice is the Altra Paradigm running shoe and the Lems Primal for those non-tramping days and casual wear. Altra is zero-drop and ultra-cushioned with a super-wide toebox. Lems are similarly designed but ultra-lightweight so they don’t have the cushioning I prefer.

BTW: There’s a seeker born every minute.

Posted by
8293 posts

"seekers/athletic shoes". ?? I suppose this means sneakers/athletic shoes. At any rate, I will go to my usual shoe store for advice.

Posted by
1250 posts

Surely the ideal pair of shoes for the EU would be one that is unnecessarily costly, only really works when walking in ever decreasing circles, requires filling in a 100 page form before use, and develops cracks at inconvenient moments.

Posted by
4368 posts

If I look like an America it is because I am an American who doesn’t want sore feet. If anyone gets offended by what I’m wearing, let them be offended

But that's the point, and the point when people ask what clothing is appropriate in Europe, is that no-one will be offended. Very few people will notice. You might be outed as an American but I really can't think of many people who are going to be offended at the your nationality (at least not in Europe).

I often receive bemused stares when I'm in shorts somewhere in Europe in February when the temperture is 18c yet the locals are wrapped up in their winter coats, scarves and gloves. Are they offended? Undoubtedly not. Do they think I'm weird? Most likely. Do I care? Not a jot.

Do I wear trainers with shorts? Yes but not the athletic type I wear in the gym, I wear what would be considered casual or 'dress' trainers.

Posted by
5975 posts

good one Nick!

I think that brand names are irrelevant since everyones' feet and affordability criteria are different. Fit is more important. I'd rather hike the alps in a pair of boat-soled wingtip oxfords that were broken in and fit right, than take a new pair of cute boots bought off the internet.

Posted by
8244 posts

Hahaha, Nick!

I agree that it depends on your feet as to what works best for you. I'm another Altra (athletic shoe) lover. The last few trips I've used Altra Lone Peak style for my main pair and my back up pair. They keep my feet happy and comfortable when I'm walking 5-8 miles whether on my own or a Rick Steves tour. All of the brands listed by OP have a tapered toe box and I need a wide toe box to accommodate a natural toe splay.

JC, I laughed at your statement about shorts in Feb. Yes, had on a long sleeved shirt and no coat on a recent Paris trip and was comfortable while the rest of the folks on the Metro were bundled up like 10 feet of snow was expected. Yes, they were staring at me. No, it didn't bother me. As Grandma said..."You won't see anyone you know or care about."

Posted by
651 posts

Cricky how do we cope! I live on a steep cobbled street, walk alot and love shoes! Only ones i avoid are high heels and thats only because i simply cant walk in them on any surface!!!!

Posted by
344 posts

This thread would've been fine had the OP declared that a study pair of shoes should be one of your shoe options when traveling. Instead, it's a declaratory statement endorsing Rockport, Natural Balance and Sketchers as the only brands to consider.

When I travel, there's at least one pair of trainers/sneakers/athletic shoes in my kit, why? because they're comfortable, I'm in-style, they're lightweight, and they pack easy. Observe most people under the age of 40, let along under the age of 50...the vast majority of footwear styles they're wearing are going to be sneakers/athletic shoes/trainers. Sorry, i don't have too many issues with cobblestones, not to mention most of Europe isn't covered in cobblestones.

Sketchers high end walking shoes-- super comfortable and meet the minimum needs of protection from cobblestones.

If they work for you, fantastic, you're one of the few. I've been selling footwear on the wholesale side for 20-years, Sketchers I would not classify as anything but, comfortable, inexpensive foot covers. They have their place, however I find their styling, design and technology severely lacking.

Posted by
613 posts

zcorsair-- don't over analyze. All I did was list what are, after more than 50 vacation in Europe, my current favorite walking shoes. As for "sturdy" shoes, I've tried a bunch of them and I don't like them for a day of city sight seeing. For mountain climbing, maybe, but not for Rome.

Posted by
17 posts

Sketchers sneaker would be nice for you ,also new balance 446 ,nike air max 90 and dream pairs 170330-M Walking Shoes ,all comfortable for travelling ,have fun .