My husband and I will taking the RS Best of Ireland tour in late May this year. This past Saturday we attended a review of the trip at the annual RS Test a Tour Guide weekend. My husband mentioned bringing his hiking boots after seeing some of the pictures during the presentation. My original plan (I am the planner in the family) was to have him wear a good pair of walking shoes and bring some keen sandals (or maybe some sneakers...does anyone use that term anymore?) for his second pair. In reading over the tour description, I understand there will be quite a bit of walking, but I didn’t get the impression that hiking boots would be necessary for the areas we will be covering. Since we pack with a carry on only, I try to be strategic on best shoes (usually the heaviest items) to bring. The reason I thought about the keen sandals for him was a chance for some warm weather in late May/early June. I told him I would post this question for the perspective of those who have taken this trip. Appreciate any insights from former RS Ireland travelers on what foot wear worked best for them. Thanks!
I did this tour in June 2014. I think hiking boots are overkill for the sightseeing you will be doing. Even the outdoors places like Cliffs of Moher, Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-rede bridge have well tended and sometimes paved paths. At The Burren there was no path but we easily walked on the rocks there.
The only place we hiked was on the free day in Dingle when we walked out along the well-worn path to the lighthouse.
It probably will not be terribly warm in May so I would go with athletic shoes/sneakers (lol) over sandals.
Definitely take 2 pr (wear one, pack one) in case one of them gets wet and you need some drying time on it. I did not have waterproof shoes and did not need them but we did hit a warm, dry patch on our tour.
Good that you are going light - there was a longer walk (maybe 1/4 mile) in Kinsale from the place where the bus can park to the lodging so going light is good. One of the women on our tour had a rolling duffle bag that I'd swear she could have fit in. It was hard for her to handle and one of her friends had to step in to pull it for her. I'm not sure what she had in it but she was cold the whole time so the only article of clothing we saw was her coat, hahaha!!
Agree with Pam that hiking boots are overkill. Good sturdy walking shoes should be more than sufficient. We do carry an extra pair of dry socks with us in a zip lock in our day bags just in case. Have come in handy on more than one occasion.
I'll be the contarian in the room and suggest that "hiking shoes" (low cut light hiking boots) are good footwear for a vacation walkabout.
Hikers have good traction, reasonable support and can be more inherently waterproof than town shoes especially if they have a breathable but waterproof membrane. Boots are made for walking as are low cut walking boots/shoes.
I always take 2 pairs of footwear when I travel. Huge fan of the Keen brand.
In my Fall trips to Eire I’ve taken both my Keen Targhee hiking shoes and the Keen Kaci slipon.
Not inexpensive BUT durable and comfortable
Surprisingly the hiking shoes are very light. Love them for their support.
I did find a walking stick helpful though for places like Giants Causeway. Just wore my regular Reebocks otherwise.
I've been to Ireland twice, though not RS tours. We tromped around ruins, fields and such, as well as golf courses. Even on a pouring rainy day in The Burren, my gore-tex hiking shoes were sufficient when we walked from the road to the Poulnabrone dolmen for a picture. Cliffs of Moher is fairly tame (has gotten rather touristy, too)
I agree with "hiking shoes" or just good walking shoes that are waterproof, or leather, will be sufficient. Ireland is prone to lots of rain. Boots are too bulky, heavy, and take up suitcase space. Definitely overkill.
I doubt it would be warm enough for sandals in May/June, unless one is very hearty and immune to cold temps. JMO. Both times we were there were (August) and I would have frozen to death in sandals. Heat waves are rare. (80F is considered hot over there) I started out most days with a thin merino sweater over a short sleeve shirt and a light jacket.
Northern Ireland is quite chilly.
DH and I did this tour in mid May 2017 and loved it. Good walking shoes will be fine---I think the hiking boots aren't worth the weight. If you can find waterproof walking shoes that would be ideal. I am a fan of New Balance because I can get the really wide width that I need but DH just wore sneakers (yes we still use that word). DH and I each took a pair of crocs as a second pair and only wore them on the plane (ease of slipping them off and on while on the plane). He eventually ditched his $5 WalMart crocs just to free up some room. We only had 1 drizzly day in Dublin-the rest of the time it was 50-60 F with a cool breeze so not sure about the sandals.
Light weight "sneakers" are actually a great hut shoe to wear after a long day's walk in the rain. You can pull out the insoles of your hiking shoes and stuff balled up newspaper into the hikers to aid in drying while you wear your dry breathable sneakers to dinner.
And then there's the question of best socks....
For international trips, never have I ever taken a pair of shoes/boots that are waterproof. If I want waterproof boots, Xtratufs fills the bill, but not for an international trip. A good pair of either low-cut day hikers or sneakers have always worked well....rain or shine. I can't recall a single time my feet were drenched and a secondary pair of shoes erquired. In addition, a pair of sandals (Chacos or very lightweight Birkenstock Arizona Essentials) is part of the kit.
"suggest that "hiking shoes" (low cut light hiking boots) are good footwear for a vacation walkabout."
I'll just clarify that if you are going to do a hiking tour or itinerary to Ireland my answer would be different. For the Rick Steves Best of Ireland tour that you're signed up for, I'll stick with the athletic shoes advice.
Here's a link to the tour page so those that haven't been on this tour can have an idea of what the itinerary includes.
This is a very busy tour. There are a few free afternoons dotted here and there and a whole free day in Dingle town.
Thanks for all your replies and great advice, it’s so helpful to hear from those who have done this tour!!! We are excited for our first trip to Ireland!!!