Nothing will put a damper on an exciting day spent exploring a city more than an uncomfortable pair of shoes. So whether you’re planning a trip to a new city or you live in a city 24/7, you need a pair or two of comfortable walking shoes that don’t skimp on style. According to Dr. Alissa Kuizinas, D.P.M., a board-certified podiatrist, the best shoes for walking in the city have a generous toe box, flexible soles, and the right amount of cushioning to keep your feet supported mile after mile.
Dr. Alissa Kuizinas, D.P.M. is a board-certified podiatrist at Wellness in Motion Boston She earned her medical degree at Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine. She takes a natural approach to foot problems, focusing on gait analysis, movement patterns, lifestyle habits, and footwear to create whole body treatment programs for her patients. Dr. Kuizinas sees patients in person at Wellness in Motion Boston and also offers virtual consultations.
Dr. Kuizinas shares her three main criteria when it comes to choosing the right shoes for walking in a city, whether that’s a supportive sandal, a slip-on sneaker for getting out the door quickly, or a boot or loafer for more of a style statement.
If you’re opting for closed-toe styles, then “one of the best features to look for in a comfy walking shoe is a wide, foot-shaped toe box,” Dr. Kuizinas says. To make that easier, she suggests that you “look for a shoe brand that has a rounded shape at the toes versus a narrow, triangular shape” — that means it’s best to leave your pointed-toe ballet flats at home.
Though you may be tempted to break out those chic leather boots you just bought, that (and other stiff styles) probably won’t be the best choice for your foot health. Instead, Dr. Kuizinas advises to “look for a shoe with a flexible sole, which will allow your foot muscles and joints to move and glide while you walk.” Some of the best walking shoes also have uppers made from stretchy materials, like mesh or knit, which encourages an even better range of motion.
If your heart is set on a pair of leather or suede shoes, you’ll find a couple of stylish boots on this list from brands that are approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), ensuring that they’re more supportive than your typical fashion shoe. That said, it’s not a bad idea to break them in before you hit the streets.
As opposed to walking shoes for the beach or other natural surfaces, walking shoes for the city need to be equipped to handle endless miles of concrete. “For any hard surfaces like concrete, brick, or cobblestone, you typically want to have some cushioning in your shoes to make the experience more comfortable,” Dr. Kuizinas advises. All the shoes below have some form of cushioning to support your arches and absorb shock while you’re pounding the pavement. That said, if you’re in a city with both concrete and natural surfaces (think dirt, grass, or sand), Dr. Kuizinas says that “lower amounts of cushioning are actually better to allow your feet to feel the ground and anticipate what muscle activity you need for the terrain.”
Whether you’re exploring ancient Greek ruins or strolling through Central Park, scroll on to discover some of the best shoes for walking in the city.
Dr. Kuizinas says, “Altra sneakers have a moderate amount of cushioning, a wide, foot-shaped toe box, and a responsive sole that allows your foot to navigate the surface you're walking on.” Lightweight and breathable thanks to mesh uppers, these shoes have bouncy foam midsoles for arch support and equal cushioning beneath the ball and heel of your foot to absorb impact, making them a great choice for concrete or cobblestone streets.
Rave review: “I walk 10-13 miles a day and I go through shoes fast. These shoes fit great, they feel good on uneven pavement, and steep hills. The material holds out for the length of my wear and tear on them. My foot doctor recommended this brand or Hoka, I did not like the thickness of Hokas and have been very pleased with the Torin Altra’s.”
Sizes: 5.5 — 12 (available in wide) | Colors: 6
These popular Reebok sneakers have earned the praise of over 12,000 five-star ratings on Amazon (and a New York-based Bustle editor) for their perfect blend of style and function. An EVA foam midsole keeps your steps light and supported, while a padded foam sockliner creates both an extra layer of cushioning and prevents blisters from forming if you’re wearing low-cut socks. The terry cloth lining also wicks away moisture, keeping your feet dry and comfortable on long city walks. Not to mention, that clean, classic style makes any outfit look cool — you could even wear them to dinner with some elevated accessories.
Editor praise: “These chunky sneakers are stylish enough that I get compliments nearly every time I wear them, and I can pair them with everything from sweats to dresses. But all of that chunkiness provides a ton of comfort, from the terry soft insole to the shock-absorbing soles. I’ve walked over 8 miles in the city in these before and my feet still felt great.” — Bustle editor Carolyn Menyes
Sizes: 4 — 13 (available in wide) | Colors: 44
There’s a reason why these adidas sneakers have earned a cult following on Amazon, amassing over 53,000 five-star ratings to date. They’re equipped with the brand’s Cloudfoam cushioning throughout that molds to the shape of your foot. The modern, sock-like construction keep your feet securely in place while remaining lightweight, and the breathable, stretchy mesh uppers won’t constrain your toes. Plus, the minimalist design and array of neutral colors, like gray and black, will complement so many outfits.
Rave review: “I work in retail and average about 18,000 steps in a 7 hour shift. These shoes come in clutch! They are true to size and the foam is a dream for someone who walks all day. These are my go to work shoes and the price is right!”
Sizes: 5 — 12 | Colors: 8
An Amazon best-seller with over 100,000 perfect five-star ratings, these loafers made from breathable cotton canvas have everything on Dr. Kuizinas’ checklist, including a flexible, lightweight sole, a very roomy toe box, and removable memory foam cushioning, with several reviewers comparing these shoes to “walking on clouds.” And they come in 75 colorways, so you can find one that matches your unique style (and several outfits) — plus they’re easy to slip on and off, since they have elastic laces.
Rave review: “Ordered for a warm weather Christmas vacation that included non stop walking at an amusement park for a few days. These shoes were light weight and comfortable and very stylish/festive [...] My feet never hurt at the end of day.”
Sizes: 2 — 12 | Colors: 75
These slip-on sneakers are perfect for those “get up and go” days in the city. Apart from being stretchy, the lightweight knit uppers also offer breathability, so no matter how much you’re walking, your feet won’t get uncomfortably sweaty — and they’re water-resistant in case of unexpected weather. They also come in wide sizes, perfect for those with wide feet who don’t want to sacrifice that coveted roomy toe box. The minimalist design will go with so many outfits, so they’re particularly great for travel.
Rave review: “I love that it’s an easy slip on sneaker that looks like an actual sneaker. It’s super comfortable and lightweight. Great for everyday walk around the city (not for high impact workout). Would definitely buy again!”
Sizes: 5 — 13 (available in wide) | Colors: 22
If you’re in a warm city, these Tevas are a great option, thanks to a contoured footbed with arch support and a cushioned heel, plus a stabilized sole for support on uneven terrain. The durable soles also offer necessary traction, and two sets of adjustable straps keep your foot supported. Both the rubber sole and straps are quick-drying, so you can wear them to the beach, pool, or in other wet conditions.
Rave review: “We walked over 20,000 steps a day during our Disney trip and I had no issues. Not one blister or issues with rubbing. The adjustable straps help to make the shoe even more comfortable for you. Arch support is also a big bonus when standing in long lines and walking far distances and these shoes definitely deliver.”
Sizes: 5 — 14 | Colors: 41
These versatile slip-on sneakers from trusted supportive shoe brand Dr. Scholl’s hit all of Dr. Kuizinas’ criteria and have nearly 13,000 five-star ratings from happy Amazon shoppers. They have a flexible sole that moves with your foot, plus anatomical cushioning made from lightweight foam with arch support. They even have a padded collar to help prevent blisters, and they come in wide sizes that ensure even those with wider feet have ample room in the toe box. Plus, this minimalist slip-on style is easy to dress up or down, depending on what your day (or night) has in store. Choose from 29 colors, patterns, and upper materials, like perforated faux suede, faux leather, canvas, and flannel.
Rave review: “Was looking for comfy shoes to wear on my Euro trip and these did not disappoint. So comfy and we walked like 9-10 miles daily there. Highly recommend!”
Sizes: 5 — 13 (available in wide) | Colors: 29
When you need both comfort and warmth (and a dash of style), opt for these Chaco Fields boots, which have earned the Seal of Acceptance from the APMA. These classic Chelsea boots are made from waterproof full-grain leather with stretch panels and a back tab for easy on-and-off. These ankle-high boots also have a supportive footbed plus an EVA midsole, and the lugged rubber sole prevents slipping on any lingering patches of snow or ice. Though they don’t come in wide sizes or have a particularly roomy toe box, a few reviewers report that the toe box stretches out over time.
Rave review: “I KNOW I need to wear good quality shoes/boots due to back issues, but sometimes it feels like that means sacrificing fashion. These arrived and now I am building outfits around them in the Wisconsin winter. Comfy, warm, cute, and I can walk forever. I strongly recommend getting good quality socks too. Eliminate any rubbing and you will be good to go.”
Sizes: 6 — 11 | Colors: 3
Known for their comfort and always-trendy silhouette, New Balance sneakers are both fashionable and functional, making them a great choice for stomping the city streets. These 574s have a widetoe box than some other New Balance styles which would make Dr. Kuizinas happy, and they come in wide sizes. Their cushioned insoles are reinforced with a layer of lightweight foam for added support, and the rubber outsole offers shock absorption.
Rave review: “I love New Balance shoes and these don’t disappoint; the fit is true to size and super comfortable right out of the box, specially around the toes. Love the style and more arch support than I expected which is great for me. I wear them everyday for a long walks with my dog; insoles are super soft I have no complaints of discomfort.”
Sizes: 5 — 12 (available in wide) | Colors: 5
Vionic is another brand with the APMA stamp of approval. All of the brand’s shoes, including these suede boots, have a podiatrist-designed footbed comprising three distinct cushioned sections — one at the forefront, the arch, and the heel — for maximum comfort and added stability when walking on uneven terrain. Easy to dress up or down, these boots have interior zippers that make them easy to put on and take off, while lace-up closures allow you to customize the fit. Since these are a tad on the narrow side, according to some reviewers, you may want to opt for the wide size to make sure you have enough room in the toe box.
Rave review: “The most comfortable, fashionable boots you will find! It took me months to find a ‘combat’ boots that wouldn’t be so heavy on the looks and the weight. I’ve been wearing it everywhere, took it to our Europe trip and walked a lot on those without feeling any pain!”
Sizes: 5 —11 (available in wide) | Colors: 6
Skechers are known for being both comfortable and supportive, and these popular slip-ons with over 11,000 ratings are no different. They have the brand’s Air Cooled Memory Foam cushioning with impact resistance for a plush feel that keeps your feet cool, plus a flexible outsole with grippy traction. Better yet, they’re available in wide sizes, so you can make sure the stretchy knit uppers have enough room in the toe box. The sleek design can take you from day to night, without compromising support.
Rave review: “Packing light for a trip, so I was looking for shoes I could walk around in all day but are also nice enough looking for dinners in restaurants. These are perfect! Comfortable, lightweight and cute - they look like ballet flats and walk like sneakers.”
Sizes: 5 — 11 (available in wide) | Colors: 2
Made with pure suede uppers, these chic clogs are the perfect piece to elevate your look without sacrificing comfort, since the textile-lined footbed has memory foam cushioning with arch support, as well as a roomy toe box. They don’t have the most flexible soles on this list, but they do have some give since they’re made from EVA rather than wood, which also makes them surprisingly lightweight.
Rave review: “I wore these shoes in Paris walking for a total of 35 miles in a week!! They are fantastic!! Look good and great support.”
Sizes: 5.5 — 11.5-12 | Colors: 7
True to the name, these Dr. Scholl’s sandals look and feel like they were made for strutting through a beach town; and thanks to their anatomical cushioning and flexible soles, you can without any pain. They have a soft microfiber lining and stretchy straps that make them easy to slip on and off. The final touch is a small, faux-wood wedge that makes them super lightweight, while adding a touch of style.
Rave review: “I recently got back from a month-long trip through Europe and walked around for hours in these shoes almost every day. I was so surprised at how well they kept up! The memory foam of the shoe made them incredibly comfortable to walk around in [...] Aside from providing great support, they’re really stylish and versatile”
Sizes: 6 — 11 | Colors: 6
These cult-favorite Dr. Martens sandals have all the iconic design features that Docs are known for — like a leather construction (the version linked here is vegan), bright yellow stitching, and grippy grooved soles — except these are the more breathable summer option. The plush platforms are reinforced with cushioned arch support, a padded collar, and an adjustable ankle strap. Like most Docs, they do have a break-in period, but once you do, they’ll mold nicely to your feet — and several reviewers reported that after a day or two of wear they didn’t experience any discomfort, too. So if you’re bringing these along for an upcoming trip, it’s still a good idea to break them in before you hit the streets.
Rave review: “these are all. I. Ever. Wear. They’re stylish. They go with practically everything. I get compliments on them at least once a week. Did I say they’re comfy? Even after 8+ hours of wear while walking- no complaints.”
Sizes: 5 — 11 | Colors: 14
Dr. Alissa Kuizinas, D.P.M., board-certified podiatrist at Wellness in Motion Boston2023-03-25T10:56:46Z dg43tfdfdgfd