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-hourwalking 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: Stylish Slip-ons
For the ultimate cheeky weekend accessory, see cult espadrille brand Soludos’s collaboration with quirky artist Jason Polan. The limited-edition shoes come in both black and sand, and are embroidered with a pair of winking eyes ($75).
Best For: Lightweight Sneakers
A seamless neoprene upper makes Reebok’s Skyscape ($20) easy to wear and even easier to pack.
Best For: Long Walks on the Beach
Cole Haan’s double-strap sandal ($69.95) touts the same cushioning technology as the brand’s popular loafers. It’s a chic option for warm-weather destinations.
Best For: Dressing Up
This leather loafer from Naturalizer ($89) touts multiple elements of comfort—extra cushioning, a flexible non-slip sole, and breathable lining— for a full day on your feet.
Best For: Treading On Trend
Adidas’s Stan Smith ($75), the sneaker du jour, gets major points for being cool and cushy. Plus, the versatile all-white style pairs well with jeans, skirts, or shorts.
Best For: Athleisure
Asics, known for running shoes, brings dependable support to a lightweight sneaker ($65).
Best For: Discreet Comfort
Despite the classic aesthetic of this Rockport shoe (67), the style is surprisingly rich with features. Built-in sport technology provides shock-absorption, ample cushioning, and lots of support.
Best For: A One-Shoe Weekend
Best For: Cute Lace-Ups
All-American brand Keds ($35) puts fun, colorful prints onto rubber-soled, lace-up sneakers.
Best For: Menswear Inspired
Just what the doctor ordered: a timeless loafer with a memory foam insole from Dr. Scholl’s ($65)—it’s as comfortable as it is classic.
Best For: Espadrilles with Support
Summer strolls call for a breathable espadrille. Reef’s version ($70) provides arch support and a soft footbed.
Best For: A Little Lift
The supportive rubber outsole and ABS—a really strong synthetic rubber—heel on this Born Beyer Sandal ($120) is perfect for pounding the pavement in style.
Best For: Reliable Technology
Aerosoles ($59) provide 360 degrees of comfort with their flexible bottoms, memory foam insoles, and suede lining.
Best For: Driving Loafers
Best For: Seasonless Style
You will forever find well-made flats from Tomas Maier, the designer who vows to never make a heel. Here, his take on sleek leather sneakers ($480).
Best For: Ballet Flats
Forget walking; try pirouetting through your trip in Repetto’s ballerina flats ($295), which are made with the same stitching technique as the brand’s ballet shoes, making them ultra-flexible.
Best For: Perusing the Boardwalk
This slip-on from TOMS ($59) will take you from seaside to sidewalk with a rubber outsole, breathable linen upper, and comfortable insole.
Best For: Seaside Strolling
Teva’s super-packable crossover strap sandals ($90) have an ample footbed and featherlight foam soles that are still durable.
Best For: Something Suede
This Bernardo suede ballet flat ($159) has a no-slip leather outsole, padded insole, and crisscrossed elastic strap for active ankles.