Planning a backpacking trip through Europe can be a mixed experience. On one part, the excitement of planning your route and researching all of the things you’re going to see and do can be incredibly exciting. On the other hand, there is a certain amount of stress involved, especially when it comes to the logistics such as budget, transportation, and accommodation planning. However, one of the most stressful parts of planning your Eurotrip might be figuring out what to pack. While you may have your clothing and other miscellaneous items sorted, many people get stuck on one very important item: Shoes. 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.
How many pairs should you bring?
One of the biggest backpacking Europe tips I could give is to make sure to pack light. It will make you so much more comfortable and happy if you’re not lugging around a 20-kilo bag on your back. The problem when it comes to shoes is that, well, shoes are heavy and bulky and take up a lot of space. Especially if you’re only travelling with a 40 – 50-litre backpack, which is what I would recommend.
A common thing I’ve seen when I’ve travelled through Europe is that people tend to bring far more shoes than they would ever need or use. I’m here to tell you not to do this. Which is why I would say that the absolute maximum number of shoes you should bring with you to Europe is four.
Generally speaking, there are only two types of shoes that you absolutely need when backpacking Europe and that’s a daily pair of walking shoes and a pair of rubber flip-flops (necessary for beach days and dirty hostel showers). However, if you’re travelling in the summer, you’re most likely going to want to bring some walking sandals. Also, if you plan to do a fair bit of hiking while in Europe (and you should!) you’re also going to want a pair of hiking shoes.
Four different pairs of shoes will be enough to get you through any scenario and it will help you avoid adding unnecessary weight to your backpack.
Top Things To Consider
If you’re only going to bring a MAXIMUM of four pairs of shoes, you need to make sure that they all have a certain amount of both utility and durability. It is likely that you are going to be doing a lot of walking while in Europe, and you want shoes that will be able to keep your feet happy and will stand up to some wear and tear.
Another thing to consider when your looking for shoes for backpacking Europe is their ability to blend into the surrounding area. Nothing screams “tourist” more than walking around wearing white running shoes. While wearing these kinds of shoes might seem like a good idea, because they are comfortable and durable, they will inevitably make you look like a target. Europeans pretty much only wear runners if they are, go figure, going running.
The best thing to keep in mind for your shoes for backpacking Europe is to find the perfect mix of utility and style. Fortunately, there are a number of fantastic options available.
Best Shoes For Backpacking Europe: Hiking Shoes
If you’re planning on hiking while in Europe or venturing out of an urban environment at all, the shoes that you’d normally wear while wandering throughout the city aren’t going to be appropriate.
The problem is that most traditional hiking boots are quite bulky and heavy and take up a lot of space. Often, this makes it really impractical to take them with you on your Eurotrip because you may not even use them enough to justify bringing them.
There are, however, some fantastic alternatives that can be a great option for shoes for backpacking Europe.
TOP CHOICE: Merrell Moab / Siren
If you’re looking for a quality hiking shoe that will last you for years on end, then Merrell is the brand for you. They obviously offer multiple options for hiking boots, however, I would suggest opting for a hiking shoe for backpacking Europe.
A great choice for men would be the Moab shoe, which comes very highly reviewed. Going for a hiking shoe is generally a better option when travelling through Europe rather than a traditional hiking boot as they are typically a lot less bulky and take up less space in your bag. This is the case for the Moab, but it also doesn’t sacrifice comfort and durability and you can just as easily hike for a couple of hours or a couple of days in these shoes.
A great women’s alternative to the men’s Moab is the Siren shoe, which also comes highly reviewed and shares all of the same benefits of the Moab.
Best Shoes For Backpacking Europe: Walking Shoes
The first pair of shoes you need to bring with you are a solid pair of walking shoes. These are likely going to be the shoes that you wear almost every day, so you want to look for something that stylish but also is comfortable and has good arch support.
It’s also always a good idea to go for a darker colour. 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.
These are my top picks for the best everyday shoes for backpacking Europe:
TOP CHOICE: Ecco Soft 7 / Irving
If I were to choose the absolute best everyday walking shoes for Europe, Ecco brand shoes would win in a heartbeat. These Danish-designed shoes expertly combine style, function, and comfort into some of the best shoes available on the market.
Michael and I both travel with Ecco shoes and have since upgraded from the Adidas that we used to wear as they look nicer (while still being casual) and have much better arch support for withstanding long days traipsing around European cities.
The women’s Soft 7 shoes come on a range of colours and are made from soft leather that takes little to no breaking-in, which is amazing if you wait a little too long to buy your shoes for backpacking Europe. Despite being made of leather, they are also lightweight and breathable meaning that your feet won’t feel hot and trapped on warm days.
The men’s Irving shoes are also a great, stylish design for men looking for a shoe that they can wear to a nice restaurant or bar while still being casual enough to wear with a relaxed pair of jeans or chinos. They also have great arch support, a nice lightweight design, and come in a range of colours to suit any man’s personality.
All in all, Ecco brand shoes might be the best shoes for backpacking Europe, especially if you like to blend into some stylish cities.
ALTERNATIVE CHOICE: Adidas Gazelle
Adidas are a great option for shoes for backpacking Europe. They’re extremely well made, currently quite trendy, and they’re incredibly comfortable.
Michael and I both have a pair of Adidas Gazelle trainers (they come in both a men’s version and a women’s version) and are extremely happy with them. I have had one pair for nearly five years and they are still holding up almost as well as when I first got them and this is with almost daily wear and tear.
I’ve worn them while backpacking through Europe and they are very comfortable and are great to wear for long periods of time. Any Adidas sneaker, but particularly the Adidas gazelle, is a great choice for an every day walking shoe.
ALTERNATIVE CHOICE: Converse
Converse are a really popular shoe for backpacking Europe but, personally, I’m not all that fond of them. While they’re certainly quite popular and stylish, they don’t have very good arch support and this can lead to your feet feeling sore and tired after a long day of walking around.
I also don’t find them nearly as durable as the Adidas sneakers I recommended about and I’ve found that they tend to fall apart within about a year of wearing them frequently. They are, however, a very popular shoe in Europe and you certainly will fit right in if you travel with a pair of Converse.
Best Shoes For Backpacking Europe: Sandals
I’ll start out with saying that if you plan on travelling to Europe outside of the months of May – September, then don’t even consider bringing a pair of sandals. The weather is not going to be warm enough to wear them.
However, if you do plan on travelling during these months, then a good and sturdy pair of sandals might be the shoes you wear the most while in Europe. Here are my top recommendations:
TOP CHOICE: Birkenstock Arizona
I really think that Birkenstocks are some of the best shoes for backpacking Europe, bar none. I personally have been travelling with the same pair of Birkenstock Arizonas for a few years and I love them more than ever. They have amazing arch support and might well be the most comfortable shoe on the market. I can walk around all day in them and my feet will not even be a little bit sore.
What is also great is that they come in a number of different colours and are a unisex style, so they are appropriate for both men and women! They’re also quite trendy in Europe right now, so you won’t look out of style while wearing them!
ALTERNATIVE CHOICE: Orthopaedic Flip-Flops
If you prefer a more traditional-looking flip-flop as opposed to the Birkenstocks I mentioned above, then I would recommend you bring a pair of orthopaedic flip-flops along with you. Definitely opt for some sort of flip-flop that has decent arch support, like these unisex versions from Vionic.
While you should always bring a pair of basic rubber flip-flops with you for beach days or hostel showers (I like Havianas!), you absolutely shouldn’t be wearing these as you daily shoe for backpacking Europe. It is terrible for both your feet and your back and you will be miserable throughout most of your trip.
Finding the best shoes for backpacking Europe can be a difficult task. However, if you follow this guide, you will be sure have the best and most practical footwear for your European adventure!
Have you found the best shoes for backpacking Europe? Are you looking? Let us know in the comments!