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Best Men’s Stylish Travel Shoes for a European Vacation: 2016-2017

We have two popular posts about women’s travel shoes here— but the question we get asked all the time is what about travel shoes for men? Men arguably have a more difficult task when seeking stylish shoes for travel– their shoes are heavier, take up more suitcase space and are often more expensive (at least for a quality pair). Note: the shoes here are classic and won’t go out of style– but the links are updated as of December 2016.

There is also just less information out there for guys about travel shoes– while my girlfriends and I have extensive conversations about what shoes we are bringing on our travels (along with articles and blog posts to read) I’m going to guess this is not a subject men discuss very often, if ever. In fact, when I asked a guy if he would ever google men’s travel shoes he looked at me in complete horror.

Fortunately, I happen to know a sartorial, well-traveled gentleman (“J”), who let me rifle through his shoe closet. I quizzed J about what men’s shoes work best for traveling for a classic European vacation— the kind that involves walking through big cities and small villages, but could still work for dinners out. These shoe picks aren’t intended for backpackers who are bringing one pair of shoes for months of travel, but for the average guy packing for a one or two-week vacation.

J offers a few men’s travel shoe-shopping tips to consider:

  • Don’t be afraid to spend money on your shoes– even if it’s substantially more than your girlfriend or wife spends. Men’s shoes are an investment, meant to be worn for years, not just a season or two. Men are also harder on their shoes so quality is important.
  • Unless you are wearing hiking shoes, don’t wear visible socks in the summer.
  • Tall men (J is 6’3) should look for shoes with a high vamp– low vamp shoes can look too dainty on tall men.
  • When you find shoes or sneakers that work for you, buy in multiples, you won’t regret it. J keeps duplicate pairs stashed in the closet for when other pairs wear out.
  • It’s best to pack a few travel shoe options– there really isn’t one shoe that will work in all circumstances.
  • Zappos is a great option for buying men’s travel shoes— shipping both ways is free and no hassle so you can grab a couple sizes and return the ones that don’t fit.

1. Best All-Around Men’s Sturdy Travel Shoe– Alden boots

Alden makes a great all-around shoe that works in winter with jeans or in summer with thick socks and shorts. At about $500 a pop these shoes are definitely an investment, but are really high quality, made in the USA and can take a beating (and still look cool enough for New York City hipster set).

best men's travel shoes reviewed comfortable stylish

J has had his Alden boots for years and has taken them everywhere from the QM2 to London and the Continent– they are a little beat up now, but only look better with age (and get even more comfortable).

Alden Indy Boot

2. Best Men’s Travel Shoes for Light Hiking

If your travel itinerary includes some light hiking, the Aldens above will work great. But if you need a lighter option, pick up some streamlined sneaker-styled hikers like these cool Scarpas from Italy— perfect for navigating trails. While these shoes would also work on the streets of a small village, they aren’t the best bet for big cities like London or Paris.

bset mens travel shoes sneakers

Scarpa Men’s Sneaker

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3. Best Men’s travel shoes for Driving Through Tuscany

Men’s driving moccasins are meant to be worn for a specific purpose– driving. The lightweight, pliable sole is designed to allow your foot to make contact with the gas pedal so you can quickly react to hairpin turns along windy country roads. The cleats add traction. If you are spending your vacation in a rental (like a classic Alfa Romeo) navigating back roads and hill towns, then a driving shoe is the perfect men’s travel shoe.

But while men’s driving moccasins are great for traction and lightweight to pack, they aren’t a good travel shoe to walk around in all day– the cleats will wear out and the thin soles have no padding. But they are perfect when you need something appropriate for that short stroll to dinner and don’t have the space for a larger shoe.

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J wears driving moccasins from Todd’s, but also likes these from Bruno Magli— the flat tread makes them more wearable on the street than the classic Todd’s (but you still don’t want to over wear them). It’s worth splurging on high quality driving shoes because they’ll look great for years.

4. Best Men’s Travel Dress Shoes

When J visits European cities, he usually plans a few nice dinners out and prefer to bring a dress shoe for more formal dining occasions as well as plane travel. J recommends a sturdy Allen Edmonds slip on loafer to wear on the plane, and easy to take on and off through security and again on the plane when you are ready to put on your slippers. The same dress loafer can be worn out to dinner in London. Or go for a classic monk strap dress shoe in British tan. Both these shoes look great with jeans.

best mens dress travel shoes europe vacation comfortable

Men’s travel dress shoes are great for business travel or for looking your best on a night out in London or Paris.

One downside to bringing men’s dress shoes for travel is that they are heavy. For a still dressy, but more casual (and lighter) option, opt for some lightweight loafers.

lightweight mens travel dress shoes packing europe vacation

These lightweight men’s dress travel shoes are the perfect balance of style and comfort, yet lightweight enough to bring a couple of pairs.

 

best mens travel shoes comfortable walking

J has had his lightweight suede loafers for a couple of years, but you can find similar lightweight tassel loafers, perfect for travel, here.

5. Best Wear-all-day Lightweight Leather Dress Shoes

Need to walk all day and still look good in the evening for a dinner out? These new lightweight Cole Haan’s (check out their ZeroGrand collections) are the best of both worlds, the perfect men’s travel shoe.

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6. Best Men’s Travel Sneakers for General Walking around and Sightseeing

Most people mistakenly think that sneakers aren’t appropriate to wear when traveling, that you’ll somehow be marked as an American tourist. While that might be true for large puffy white running sneakers, there are plenty of men’s travel  sneaker options that look stylish. European men wear lots of sneakers– they just look cooler when they do it (Converse seems to the be universal brand). The great thing about men’s sneakers are their versatility– they can be worn with jeans, trousers or even shorts.

Best sneaker options for men’s travel:

Men’s Superga sneakers

best men's travel sneakers reviewed europe vacation comfort style

These classic men’s superga sneakers are a great travel shoe option– opt for a “box fresh” pair instead of bringing your beat up tennies.

Men’s Seavees for Travel

DSC07790Men’s Converse for Travel

If you want to blend in with European guys, pick up a pair of Converse sneakers— they are incredibly popular all over Europe.

DSC07770Men’s Tiger by Asics 

Men’s Old School Vintage-look Nikes for Stylish Travels

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They don’t make J’s vintage-look waffle Nike’s above but these Nikes inspired by 80’s design are just as cool.

7. Best Men’s Travel Casual Leather Shoe

Not a sneaker type? Go for a classic casual leather shoe for a men’s travel shoe. Originally staples for preppy guys everywhere, Top-siders and Weejuns are now mainstream. They are incredibly versatile and work with trousers and shorts (sockless, natch). Or try some classic Chukka boots.

best mens leather casual shoes

These casual leather topsiders are meant to get beat up with age (ed. note: back in my boarding school days the kids used to duct tape them together when they started falling apart).

Sperry Topsider Authentic Original

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classic loafers

leather slip on travel shoe for men weejuns vacation

These classic slip on leather loafers are a great men’s travel shoe.

3304266-p-MULTIVIEW Men’s Chukka Boots (aka desert boots)

mens travel boots shoes

Ok so these well-worn men’s chukka boots don’t photograph so well– but they look great on and are really comfortable for traveling.

6900-458130-pClark’s Chukka Desert boots

8. Best Men’s Sandals for Travel

I am on my own here as J does not do “mandals.”  However I think men can wear sandals for travel, even off the beach, as long as they in excellent condition. I liked these Mephisto men’s sandals— the laid back look of Birkenstock but with a dressier leather.

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Men’s Travel Shoe Tips– Staying Fresh

We know guys shoes tend to stink a bit by days end. While most of the shoes here can go barefoot, an option are these low profile socks for men specifically designed to be hidden from view.

 

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 What men’s travel shoes do you recommend? Tell us about your favorites!

Any purchases made through my links (at absolutely no cost to you) will earn me a tiny commission and help me out with the maintenance costs of running this site, so thank you!

8 Responses to Best Men’s Stylish Travel Shoes for a European Vacation: 2016-2017

  1. Amber 05/19/2015 at 4:19 am #

    This is fabulous, thanks! We are already in Europe and were struggling to find shoes for Eric in a size 46! But, from Asia all he had were flip flops and sneakers, so he needed something for meals out, and winery tours. We stumbled into a shop in Palafrugell Spain, after nearly admitting defeat in Lisbon, and other shops in Spain. I asked the woman if she had any shoes in a size 46, and she replied “all of them!” We found men’s shoe nirvana, and bought Eric a pair of suede driving moccasins. Not meant for long term walking, but they work for eating out and dressing up, but are light weight and will fit in his small carry on backpack.

    • Kristin Francis 05/19/2015 at 10:06 am #

      Hi Amber, that’s good to know! I think Eric made the right choice– guy’s shoes can be so heavy, those will pack up easily for those times you need to look a little more presentable. : ) That’s great to know about the Pal’s shoe shop– who would have thought.

  2. Vortiguant Atadesk 10/11/2015 at 5:08 pm #

    Why exactly are the Scarpa’s undesirable for walking around in the city?

    • Kristin Francis 10/28/2015 at 7:27 pm #

      Not really a hard and fast rule– I thought they might be a little casual looking, depending on the city– but I am sure the right guy can pull it off.

  3. John 05/14/2016 at 6:28 pm #

    Great article Kristin! I will be backpacking Europe this summer for a month after spending all of June studying abroad in Barcelona. Would my Sperry Topsiders work as a casual day shoe as well as for nicer nights out? Also, I will likely be doing day hikes that are nearby the cities I travel to. Would you recommend taking two pairs of shoes for this trip, or should I try to save weight and take one pair to fit all purposes?

    • Kristin Francis 05/28/2016 at 9:34 pm #

      John I think you’ll be fine with the topsiders unless you are going to really high end restaurants. It’s more important to look pulled together and Europeans often wear sneakers– they just wear them better!

  4. Anonymous 03/30/2017 at 10:47 am #

    Thanks! I’m a guy and just googled “European walking shoes for men” There are multiple articles for women’s shoes, but not so much for men’s. Thank you!

    • Kristin Francis 04/04/2017 at 5:51 pm #

      so glad! If you don’t mind using my links to shop, I can keep bringing more articles 🙂

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