Sorry to be gross, but nothing spoils a perfectly good vacation day like a great big blister on your foot -- the burning, bulging culmination of bad walking shoes rubbing your skin with every exploratory step. And the wrath of wrong footwear can go beyond a pesky blister: A bruised toenail, aching arch, chafing sole, or shooting foot or leg pain all have the power to put the kibosh on your fun. Seriously, even a pinched pinky toe can bring a day of discovery to a screeching halt! Good walking shoes are literally the foundation of a successful vacation, whether it's in a European mountain town or on a party island in Southeast Asia. We've found 14 great styles that give discomfort (and frustrating downtime) the boot.
Yes, these outdoor shoes score a zero on the chic-o-meter, but what they lack in sleekness and style they make up for with substance and staunchness. Polyester straps adjust via a pull-through system for a truly non-slip and custom fit, and resilient, grippy rubber souls can stride over ancient streets, backcountry hiking trails, or river rocks (Chacos are designed for wading through water) without missing a beat — or triggering a throb or even a flash of irritation. Whether you’re heading on a 10-day walking tour of Italy or a two-week rafting trip through Glacier National Park, these shoes may well be the only footwear you need to pack.
Stylish and casual, these simple slip-on sandals are easy to pack for trips. Put them on and head out on a city walking tour, day at the beach, or even a casual night out on the town. The one-inch sole and cushioned footbed are sturdy and comfortable underfoot, while the soft, suede-like outer fabric elevates this espadrille’s overall style.
Here’s a Sorel style you can wear straight from a guided city tour to a dimly lit tapas bar. The platform rubber sole provides traction and a little height, while foamy leather-covered footbeds give plenty of cushion. Two sturdy leather suede bands plus a back strap ensure steadiness — great for traipsing over cobblestones or ambling through museum gallery after museum gallery — but also look cool.
Flirtiness, meet durability. Sofft’s Vanita sandals feature the company’s comfy signatures — leather lining, latex arch support, major padding — plus fun color-blocking, metallic leather, adjustable slingback straps, and cork wedges that gives a bit of lift.
Rarely do we toss out words like “polished” when discussing active shoes, but Allbirds’ eco-friendly merino wool footwear earns the descriptor. The slipper-like Wool Lounger has light foam soles, insoles that curb sweat and stink, and wool uppers (everything above the sole) that feel airy and ventilated in hot weather, yet stay toasty in the cold. The wool is grime-resistant, but the entire shoe is machine-washable.
Chucks may not be known for their arch support, but that doesn’t stop millions of people from wearing these classic sneakers all day, every day, including long walks. Initially designed as basketball shoes, these kicks rose in popularity during the 1990s and have been a staple ever since. The variety of color choices allow you to make a statement or pick a neutral hue that will go with almost everything. If you’re worried about the lack of arch support, go a half-size bigger and use a supportive insert.
Handmade with Italian leather, fine microfiber, and heavy-duty-but-bouncy rubber, La Canadienne’s all-season, no-nonsense Sara Bootie is a travel (and life) essential. The pull-on/pull-off style has elastic panels on both sides, thick and springy soles that can handle years of tread, and a cool straightforward look that can play casual, tough, or dressy. Their slim fit and mid cut (hitting about an inch above the ankle bone) yield a ton of support and their waterproof exterior and interior lining keep your feet dry.
Sorrel’s elegant Ella sandal is a must-have for anyone looking for an all-day sandal that can be worn while exploring the streets of a new city. A leather buckle on the heel gives you a more customized fit, while the criss-cross straps secure your feet from the top. These shoes are only four ounces and pack practically flat, so they won’t take up too much space in your suitcase (they can even be slipped into a day bag). Textured rubber soles provide traction, while EVA molding in the footbed keeps things comfortable.
The tiny perforations covering these stylish sneakers make them extra breathable, meaning they’re great for walking in warmer weather. The easy-to-slip-on (and off) design comes in handy whether you’re going through airport security or want to take a romantic walk on the beach. The rubber soles sport light traction that’s best for walking on rough surfaces like sidewalks and streets, while insoles made of memory foam keep you feeling comfy with every step. The shoe’s sophisticated style and available colors work well with jeans, dresses, and shorts, and provide a comfortable shoe option for casual resort attire.
Whether you’re roaming through street markets or walking over the pebbled pathways of ruin sites, these slip-on sandals provide comfort and durability. Suede straps have adjustable buckles, while the foam footbed molds to the wearer’s foot shape for a comfortable, customized fit. You’ll also get more support than an average flat sandal, thanks to a thin layer of air bubbles that add cushion underfoot. Meanwhile, the cork sole is both eco-friendly and works as a shock absorber as you walk.
Look good while doing good with these chic, yet casual, suede ankle boots from Toms — the company that donates shoes for each pair purchased. A one-inch leather heel and rubber sole elevate your look without putting too much pressure on the balls of your feet, while the microfiber lining keeps things comfy on the inside. What’s more? The natural tan color is versatile enough for anything in your wardrobe, and the slip-on, slip-off design makes these shoes a great option for going through TSA checkpoints.
Forget sweaters — comfy knit sneakers are where it’s at. These Cole Haan shoes are some of our favorite all-day walking shoes. Why? We love how versatile the style is — these sneakers can function as both casual walking shoes and punctuation on a business-casual outfit. Tight knitting in the forefoot area helps to stabilize your gait, while a textured sole offers great traction. Leather heel accent strips, a narrow design, and upscale laces dress up the shoe, making the move from day to night or beach to boardroom a cinch.
Finding a flat sandal that’s also good for walking can be challenging, but we’ve found a great contender. This strappy leather sandal has a padded leather-lined footbed, breathable straps, and a sturdy rubber sole that combine to make a comfy and stylish walking sandal. The flip-on, flip-off design is ideal for travel, especially days at the beach. However, these shoes may feel a little loose on folks with narrow feet, due to the specific design of the straps.
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