Choosing the Best Shoes for Hiking in Europe

The travel shoes you choose for your first trip abroad are more important than you’d think. You may not realize it now, but having the right footwear can either make or break your backpacking experience.

Nobody wants to ruin their trip by getting massive blisters, which are gross, painful and can mean you have to miss out on awesome activities because your feet are killing you. Same as you don’t want to have the wrong shoes or shoes that are not appropriate for the destination you are traveling to.

Picking the correct travel shoes is one of the most important — and most difficult — parts of preparing for your travels to Europe. This guide will help you choose the perfect shoes for traveling.

While you may have your clothing and other miscellaneous items sorted, many people get stuck on one very important item: Shoes.Finding one pair of shoes that ticks all these boxes is tricky. If a shoe is super supportive, it tends to also be heavy and ugly. So what are the best shoes for backpacking Europe? Well, luckily for you, I’ve compiled a list of the best shoes for Europe to make your packing a breeze.

Walking Shoes vs Hiking Boots

At one end of the spectrum, you’ve got hiking boots and lightweight hikers that are awesome for serious trail hiking and strenuous walking. Hiking boots have what’s called a shank, a piece inside the sole for stability, and you want to look for a plastic (not metal) shank to keep them more lightweight. Lightweight hikers tend to be less heavy duty and may or may not have any shank for stability. Unless I’m spending most of my trip hiking the Alps, these wouldn’t be my top pick for a single pair to take.

The first pair of shoes you need to bring with you are a solid pair of walking shoes. If you’re wearing these shoes nearly every day for weeks on end, they’re bound to get a bit dirty so a darker pair of shoes is a great way to keep them looking good.

What you will see more and more of in Europe are fashion sneakers. A newer addition to this category are the sport city shoes that look like a classic dress shoe on top, with a rubber outsole borrowed from an athletic shoe on the bottom. If I were packing for a trip that would be exclusively city touring, I might consider a sport city shoe, but most of my trips include getting off the beaten (and paved) path, and these shoes don’t have enough support or comfort for that. Still, they might work as a second pair of shoes if your first pair was more like a light hiker or other boot.

Tips for Comfort

  • Quality Socks – A lot of people spend a lot of money on shoes then throw on a pair of cheap socks, but quality socks are just as important as the shoes.
  • Keep Your Destination In Mind – This seems like a no-brainer, but you need to match your shoes to when and where you’ll be traveling. A pair of flats isn’t appropriate for a tour through Iceland, and a pair of heavy-duty mountaineering boots probably is too heavy for walking the streets of Dublin.
  • Support! Support! Support! – You should always make sure your shoes have the proper support for your feet. A quality pair of insoles can make shoes or boots much more comfortable.
  • Break In Your Shoes – We can not stress this enough; BREAK IN YOUR SHOES! Be sure you purchase your shoes a month or two before your trip and make sure you wear take them out on a few practice hikes before your trip.

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