We’ve had the pleasure of visiting various countries and cities in Europe during the colder winter months over the past decade and have become somewhat experts on picking clothes and shoes that are both versatile and comfortable.
When you think of Europe in winter, you might think of a picturesque snowy landscape. However, that’s not always the case, as temperatures and conditions can vary dramatically from one European country to another.
For example, many destinations in the southern part of the continent are not as cold as you might expect, even in winter.
Places like the south of Spain, the Greek Islands and Portugal are all places in which you can frequently encounter mild temperatures, sunny days, and no snow at all during those winter months.
Alternatively, destinations such as Norway, Sweden, Germany, Italy, and Eastern Europe can see temperatures several degrees below zero.
As a result, we recommend questioning your travel plans before deciding on the type of shoe (or shoes) that might be best for your trip.
Are you going on a skiing holiday?
Will you be spending time touring cities and museums?
Have you planned hikes or trips to visit ancient archaeological sites with rocky, uneven surfaces?
What Qualities Should I Look For In Shoes?
When either purchasing or choosing a pair of shoes specifically for travelling to Europe in winter, you should look for the following qualities;
Comfortable: Ask yourself, are they comfortable for a full day?
Stability: Do they give my foot and leg the stability it needs?
Thick Sole: Does it have a thick sole and cushioning?
Lightweight: Are they fairly lightweight?
Quick To Dry?: Will these shoes be dry the following day after a full day of being out in the rain?
How Many Pairs of Shoes Should You Pack For Your European Winter Vacation?
Winter shoes (especially boots) tend to be bulkier and heavier than regular summer shoes, sandals, or canvas sneakers.
This is an important thing to consider when deciding what shoes to pack (or what luggage is best) for your trip.
The golden rule we’ve chosen to stick to is packing no more than two pairs of shoes for a trip (leaving us with three pairs, including the pair we travel in).
Although for shorter trips (under one week), we try to pack just one pair as we generally only take hand baggage.
To save space in our luggage we always try to wear our bulkiest outfits (shoes included) – although, I draw the line at wearing ski boots on a flight.
With our three-shoe rule in mind, we generally try to achieve the following;
Casual, comfortable trainers: Perfect for exploring the towns & cities or going out on day trips.
Hiking boots: Ideal for offering support to your feet & ankles during longer treks.
Dress shoe / smart boots: Essential if you plan to eat at fancy establishments during your trip.
Our base pair of shoes for all trips, regardless of the location or the season, is a pair of comfortable, quality trainers.
In most pairs of trainers, you’ll be able to walk around a town or a city comfortably. They are also small enough to fit in your luggage without taking up too much space or can easily be slipped on and off at security if you choose to wear them for a flight.
Trainers For Women
Trainers For Men
If you’re looking for long walks, to visit ancient archaeological sites or places with uneven surfaces, then hiking boots are a perfect choice.
Hiking boots typically go higher than a pair of trainers to support the ankle and are often some of the most waterproof shoes around, making them perfect for wet winter days.
However, the quality and support you find in a hiking boot often result in these shoes weighing a lot and taking up a lot of space in your luggage, so if you do choose to travel with a pair of hiking boots, these might be what you consider to wear on travel days to save space.
Hiking Boots For Women
Hiking Boots For Men
Dress Shoes / Smart Boots
Smart boots are perfect for keeping your feet warm while also offering that slightly more dressy look suitable for many bars and restaurants.
However, these shoes, in addition to a pair of walking boots, can take up a considerable amount of space in your luggage, so if you’re only travelling light, you might have to look back at your intentions for the trip and choose between the two.
Dress Shoes / Smart Boots For Women
Dress Shoes / Smart Boots For Men
Breaking In Your Shoes
If you’ve bought a new pair of shoes specifically for your winter trip to Europe, you’ll want to be sure you break them in before your trip.
After all, the last thing you want is to be in the middle of Paris city centre and notice that your heel is rubbing or your toes are being squashed.
We look to begin breaking in our new shoes for our travels around one month before our trip.
We achieve this by putting on a pair of thick socks (or two pairs of socks if you don’t have a thick pair) and then taking one shoe and warming it up with a hairdryer for around one minute until it’s soft.
Then, we go ahead and put the shoe on our foot and repeat with the other.
With both shoes on we then walk around the house until the shoes have cooled.
We then try and wear the shoes inside the house for 20 minutes to 1 hour daily up until our trip to make sure they are well moulded to our feet.
Additional Footwear Accessories To Consider
Finding the best shoes for travelling around Europe during the winter months is just one half of the battle.
The other half is finding the best additional items that help to support your feet, and in this case, the two most common items are;
There are several benefits to buying a good couple of pairs of socks when visiting Europe during the winter months, these include;
- Keeping your feet warm
- Protecting your feet from germs and blisters
- Protecting the shoes from germs and stains
- Minimising the stress on your feet
- Managing the moisture within the shoes
If you want additional customised support for your shoes, consider purchasing a pair of insoles. Insoles help;
- Decrease the shoe size
- Increase warmth inside the shoe
- Help to prevent blisters
- Correct posture
- Help prevent foot-related problems