Comfy, Travel-friendly Shoes Made for Walkin'
Walking is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to take in a new city. On foot, you can spot the details that bring a destination to life. It’s easy to lose track of time perusing the shops along Via del Corso in Rome, exploring a bamboo grove in Kyoto, or weaving your way through the medieval medina of Fez. But there’s no quicker way to shatter the magic of these immersive cultural experiences than an uncomfortable pair of shoes.
Comfort vs. style has long been a classic conundrum for the fashion-conscious traveler. Your everyday flats aren’t necessarily the most practical for a packed itinerary, but something more orthopedic in design might have you cropping your vacation photos from the ankles up.
Some destinations call for a sturdier shoe due to rugged terrain or extreme weather—Iceland in the winter, perhaps—and in that case, you’ll need some trusty, travel-friendly boots. But when mild weather and walkable streets open up the possibilities, it gets a lot harder to choose the perfect pair.
We sorted through sneakers, sandals, slip-ons, and every style of footwear in between to find the best walking shoes for women. Our picks are designed to maximize comfort—using technology like shock absorption, memory-foam insoles, and breathable upper fabrics—without compromising style.
There is one more important element that makes for a good pair of travel shoes: versatility. If the same kicks can take you effortlessly from shopping to a 6-hour walking tour to dinner, sans blisters, you’re set. We know it’s a ludicrous ask, but planning to wear only the pair on your feet makes it much easier to pack everything else to match. Plus, those five just-in-case pairs of shoes are often what add the most weight to your luggage. Wouldn’t you rather have the extra suitcase space to pick up a few souvenir pairs?
Oh, and one last suggestion: A weekend staycation is a great way to break in your new favorite travel shoes before you go.
Best For: Athleisure
BUY IT: Women's New Balance® for J.Crew 620 sneakers, $80; jcrew.com
New Balance borrows sole padding technology from their running shoes for their fashion-staple 620 sneakers. This J.Crew collaboration pair has a soft mesh and suede upper and trendy gold accents.
Best For: Discreet Comfort
BUY IT: 'Total Motion - Adelyn' Ballet Flat, $110; nordstrom.com
Despite the sleek aesthetic of this Rockport ballet flat, the style is surprisingly rich with features. Built-in sport technology provides shock-absorption, ample cushioning, and arch support.
Best For: Taking to the Trails
Best For: A Little Lift
BUY IT: Born Coralyn, $90; zappos.com
The supportive rubber outsole and ABS—a really strong synthetic rubber—heel on this Born Coralyn sandal is perfect for pounding the pavement in style.
Best For: Perusing the Boardwalk
BUY IT: Sperry Top-Sider A/O Villa Perf, $49.99; 6pm.com
Sperry’s elevated take on the classic boat shoe has a feminine, perforated design and will take you from seaside to sidewalk with a rubber outsole, soft, moisture-wicking lining, and a molded EVA footbed.
Best For: Seaside Strolling
BUY IT: Teva Terra-Float Nova, $80; zappos.com
Teva’s super-packable Terra-Float sandals have an ample footbed and featherlight foam soles that are still durable.
Best For: Stylish Slip-ons
BUY IT: 'Vienna' Slip-on Sneaker, $88; shop.nordstrom.com
These pointed-toe leather sneakers by Dr. Scholl’s are the perfect casual pair to step into for a day of wandering. Cushioned memory foam insoles are designed to be comfortable for hours on your feet.
Best For: Cute Lace-Ups
BUY IT: Venice Jogger, $79; shopspring.com
This Inkkas Venice jogger is part of a collection inspired by vibrant color and cultures around the world from Congo to Brazil. The handcrafted leather sneakers are cut, sewn, and stitched by local artisans with a focus on quality and comfort. Plus, Inkkas promises to plant one tree for each pair sold.
Best For: Something Suede
BUY IT: TOMS Jutti Flat, $68; zappos.com
These chevron-embossed flats have a no-slip rubber outsole, a padded comfort insole, and for every pair sold, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need.