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View of three boys and their sneakers. You can see them from the waist down. One child has ice cream cone in hand.

7 Tips for Choosing Kids Shoes for Italy + My Recommendations

Updated on January 15, 2024

Helpful tips for choosing the right kids shoes for Italy – for your baby, toddler, or younger child.  Based on my experience guiding families and helping them plan trips to Italy since 2004 and exploring Italy with my own three kids.

You’ve booked your flights, decided on your Italy itinerary, and now it’s time to pack! 

Shoes are important for every member of the family.  After all, who wants to deal with a blister while on vacation?  And, it’s especially tough to deal with foot pains, injuries, or blisters in Italy because you’ll be walking a ton – on cobblestone streets, up-and-down steps, through museums, and on ancient roads and paths.

You’ll want your child to be comfortable, and happy, and spending his or her time worrying about which gelato flavor to try next or how to say ‘hi’ in Italian to new friends at the playground – not worrying about the ‘owie’ on his or her foot!

So, let’s take a look at my top 7 tips for choosing the best kids shoes for your Italy vacation!

You may also want to read
Italy with a Baby or Toddler
Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids

Fun & Memorable Things to Do in Italy with Kids
Italy Packing List for Kids
Italy Packing List for a Baby or Toddler

Or, just jump ahead to my Recommended Kids Shoes for Italy.

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Focus on Basics for Kids Shoes for Italy

Boy wearing hiking clothes and shoes in the Dolomites. You can see the mountains and green field in background.
My son wearing Salomon hiking shoes in the Dolomites

Make sure the shoes you choose for your child:

  • have good tread so he/she won’t slide on worn stone streets or wet roads or steps
  • are comfortable
  • are supportive
  • are season and activity appropriate

Bring Shoes Your Child Already Loves

Does your child adore her NIKE sneakers?  Bring them, or buy a new pair before your trip and give her ample time to wear them in.

Kids love familiarity, and having shoes they already know and are comfortable wearing will be nice while traveling. 

Also, you’ll know that the shoes will work for your trip, rather than wondering if the new brand or style you’ve just purchased will hold up or end up rubbing her heel or giving her a blister.

I like to let my older boys choose which shoes they’d like to bring (and like I mentioned above, if needed, we’ll buy a new pair).

Avoid Shoes with Laces

Close up of sneakers and boots against a wall. They are kids standing on a terracotta terrace.
Shoes my boys wear that work well in Italy – Adidas with smooth leather that’s easy to wipe clean and velcro closures, New Balance sneakers with the same pros, and Blundstone boots that work well in winter or in poor weather.

Even if your kid can tie his or her own shoes, laces can come undone and be a hazard in crowds, on public transport, and on uneven road surfaces.

Keep it simple and choose shoes that have Velcro closures or stretchy laces that don’t need to be tied.

If your child doesn’t know how to tie laces yet, bringing shoes with laces is a pain because you’ll spend time throughout the day tying them.

Helpful Tip:  If you want to replace laces in a current pair of shoes with non-tying laces, make sure you try them first.  I made a mistake and didn’t give my child enough time to try them out before a trip in Northern Italy (they ended up not keeping the shoe snug enough).  I ended up having to buy a new pair of normal laces in Milan (and tying them all trip).

Bring Kids Shoes That Are Easy to Keep Clean

Three boys and father sit on seat eating gelato. Father smiles.
The Keen sandals and black NIKE sneakers are much easier to keep clean than the checkered Vans

Some materials, like light colored suede or netting, are difficult to keep clean and the dirt, grime, and pasta sauce of Italy will quickly collect on them. 

I recommend bringing shoes that wipe clean easily (leather or smooth uppers), or are a darker color.  For example, we like Crocs sandals and Blundstone boots because we can wipe them easily.  When my boys wear New Balance sneakers with suede or netting, I make sure they’re darker colors (or at least red – tomato sauce and most gelato flavors blend in…).

Helpful Tip:  Baby wipes are handy for keeping shoes clean while you’re out exploring.

Bring Two Pairs of Shoes to Italy for Your Child

Mother with three sons standing in a castle tower. You can see town of Sirmione, Italy in background.
Taking a break from swimming in Lake Garda to climb Sirmione’s castle

It’s important to give your child’s feet a little variety, so bring two pairs of shoes.  I always recommend having a sneaker (good for the varied terrain, cobblestones, slippery surfaces, dirt paths, uneven sidewalks, stone steps, and amount of time he’ll spend on his feet). 

If you’re coming in the summer, you’ll probably want to bring a sandal.

If you’re visiting in the winter, bring a warm, weatherproof shoe like a boot.

Helpful Tip:  If your child’s shoes get wet, you can stuff them with newspaper or sit them near (not on) the radiator in your hotel room.  You can also use cold air from the hairdryer (but the previous two methods work best).

Helpful Tip:  If you’re trying to decide whether or not to bring water shoes (as a third pair of shoes).  I’d bring them if you’re sure you’ll need them – and if your kids expect to have them in water situations.  If you’re not sure, you can buy them here at your destination or at a shopping mall or store in a city center.  My boys prefer using Crocs or going barefoot at the beach, and we try to avoid rocky beaches with kids.

Bring Shoes with a Rubber Toe Box for Toddlers or Early Walkers

Father holds son who points to something off camera to the left. They're sitting on the stone piazza in Pietrasanta. You can see buildings in the background and outdoor art.
My son is wearing shoes with rubber in the front that help prevent wear

If your littlest ones are like mine were, they wear out a ton of shoes by dragging the front part on the ground while playing or crawling around.  Avoid having the front part of their shoes flapping around – buy shoes with reinforced toe boxes.

Keen does a great job with reinforced toes, and so do other smaller brands like Naturino.

Be Strategic with Kids Sandals for Italy

Boy wearing white shirt and plaid shorts and red Crocs.
Crocs work well in Italy

Avoid any sandals with a slippery sole.  And, if your child really wants to wear them, have a Vibram sold added.

I like to have my kids wear a sandal with a raised area around the toe box, if possible.  This helps prevent stubbed toes and keeps some of the dirt and grime off of their feet, especially when walking in cities with cobblestones and uneven streets.  For example, I’d choose Birkenstock sandals vs. classic Salt Water Sandals (yes, I’m an 80s kid).

Keen sandals are great in most places, but can be a pain in gravel or areas where stones and small things get into the shoe and you have to stop and take it off to empty it every five minutes (speaking from experience).  So, for example, if you know you’ll be spending time at a pebble beach in Italy, don’t bring close toed sandals as your child’s water shoes.

If your children have sweaty feet, you may want to avoid ‘rubber/plastic’ sandals like the Birkenstock Rios or Crocs Bayabands.  Instead, opt for sporty sandals like Tevas.

Best Kids Shoes for Italy

New Balance 574sneakers
Crocssandals (closed-toe)
Birkenstock Riosandals (open-toe)
Salomon Speedcrosshiking shoes
Teva Y Tirrasandals (open-toe)
Crocs Bayabandsandals (open-toe)
Keen Seacamp 2 sandals (closed-toe)

More Tips for Choosing the Best Kids Shoes for Italy

Mother holding one son and standing to the left of two others. They're standing against as plain wall and the ground is cobblestones.
Wearing Stan Smith sneakers, NIKEs, and Vans in the Dolomites

Have your child try a new shoe on in the afternoon, when his or her foot is at its largest (slightly swollen from heat and walking around during the day).  Your child will be walking a lot in Italy and you don’t want to bring a shoe that’s too small.

Bring appropriate socks.  This varies depending on when you’re visiting Italy, your activities, and your particular child.  For example, I like to have my boys wear long wool socks when hiking in the Dolomites, thin and short cotton-blend athletic socks in the summer, and my youngest son doesn’t like wool, so I avoid wool socks for him.

Try to rotate shoes while you’re in Italy.  For example, if your child likes to wear her sneakers all day, have her wear her sandals to breakfast to give her feet a little variety.

Where to Find Kids Shoes in Italy

Wall display at GEOX store. You can see kids shoes.
Inside Geox in Florence

If you have a problem with your child’s shoes while you’re here and you need to find a new pair, you can ask someone:

Dov’è posso trovare un negozio di scarpe per bambini?
Where can I find a children’s shoe store?

Some common stores you’ll see in Italy that sell children’s shoes include OVS, Geox and Primigi, along with athletic stores like Decathlon, Nencini Sport and Foot Locker, and department stores like Rinascente and COIN.  You’ll also find shoe shops in city centers and at shopping centers (centri commerciali).

Best Kids Shoes for Travel in Italy FAQ

Close up of kids Blundstone boots on a terracotta floor.
My son in his well-loved Blundstones
What should I do if my child’s shoes give her blisters while we’re in Italy?

I recommend bringing your preferred blister remedy from home, but you can also buy an excellent product here called Compeed (‘bandages’ that are like a second-skin that stays on your child’s foot or toe, even in showers or while swimming).  You can find it at the pharmacy.

What types of shoes do Italian kids wear? 

Italian kids wear the same shoes your kids do!  We have a lot of the same international brands here, and kids usually wear athletic sneakers, lifestyle sneakers, sandals, or boots.  Our kids tend to wear sneakers when we’re out exploring.  If we’re at the beach, they like Crocs or slides (like these Adidas slides).  When we’re hiking (like up in the Dolomites), they either wear sneakers or hiking shoes (like the Salomons in the table above). Their favorite boots (dressy or casual) are from Blundstone. 

What size shoe does my child wear in Italy?

Shoes in Italy have the same labels, so you’ll see US, EU/FR, and UK sizes.

I’d like to bring new shoes for a special photo shoot in Italy.  Is that a bad idea?

If you want to bring them for photos, that’s fine, but I’d avoid having your child wear them during the trip (before or after the photos) as new shoes can cause pain or blisters (and those can ruin a trip!).  Or, choose a shoe for photos that can be worn during the trip but cleaned easily (like Blundstone boots or a Birkenstock sandal).

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