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.