Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

How to Tip in Europe. And How Not to.

Billie Cohen | March 24, 2015

Forget the stress of planning flights, deciding what to pack, and figuring out how to get around…one of the aspects of travel that causes people the most anxiety is tipping. When should you do it? When shouldn’t you? Who expects it? Who doesn’t? And always, how much?

We went straight to our Trusted Travel Experts—handpicked by Wendy as some of the top travel specialists around—to find out the customary tipping rules all over Europe. From Amsterdam to Russia (with stops in France, Italy, Greece and more), we’ve listed the do’s and don’ts of tipping throughout Europe.

Amsterdam

bicycle at Amsterdam Canal

Photo courtesy Context Travel

The Dutch are not big tippers, and a service charge is normally included, but good service should be rewarded: A small sum for a drink or 10 to 15 percent of the price of a meal. Rather than leaving the tip at your table as you depart, hand the money to your server. Just tell him or her how much you would like to pay in total when they collect the bill.—Paul Bennett, Trusted Travel Expert for Cultural Tours of Various Cities

Read Paul’s Insider’s Guide to Amsterdam

Austria

Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria

Natural History Museum, Vienna. Photo courtesy Gwen Kozlowski.

Many restaurants now have a tip line on the invoice. The waitstaff at several restaurants have told me that they actually do get the tips when paid via credit card. Generally, 10 percent is fine.—Gwen Kozlowski, Trusted Travel Expert for Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland

Read Gwen’s Insider’s Guide to Austria including Vienna and the Danube

Czech Republic

Charles Bridge. Photo by Dan Weisberg Photography.

Charles Bridge. Photo by Dan Weisberg Photography.

Make sure to tip in cash; any currency works. I generally give about 10 percent at restaurants.—Gwen Kozlowski, Trusted Travel Expert for Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland

Read Gwen’s Insider’s Guide to the Czech Republic

Croatia

Dubrovnik Market, Croatia

Sweets at the market in Dubrovnik. Courtesy Weisberg

Croatians are traditionally not a “tipping nation,“ but this attitude is gradually changing and people like waiters, bartenders, and taxi drivers are happy to get tips. 10 percent of the total bill should be perfectly fine. Tipping does not need to be in the local currency; US dollars and euro are widely accepted and appreciated. If you wish to tip, make sure you do so in cash, even when paying by credit card. Otherwise the tip will end up in the pocket of the business owner, and not the person who provided the service.—Mariana Fisher, Trusted Travel Expert for Croatia, Slovenia, and the Balkans

Read Mariana’s Insider’s Guide to Croatia

England

Evening View, London, England

The view from Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament, the River Thames, Westminster and Westminster Bridge, towards the East as dusk is falling. Courtesy Visit Britain

In London the usual tip is 10 percent, but check the bill in restaurants, as some are inclined to include a service charge and you are not obliged to essentially tip twice.—Jane McCrum, Trusted Travel Expert for England

Read Jane’s Insider’s Guide to London

France

Sénanque Abbey in Provence

Sénanque Abbey in Provence

In French restaurants the tip is always included (usually 15 percent). However, as waiters will (rather craftily) say, “The service is included but not the tip,” and many establishments do use the official tip as extra profit. So waiters do still need tips, and in France the amount is generally determined by intuition, rather than as a fixed percentage of the bill. Leaving 10 euros will be a gesture of satisfaction, 20 euros (and up) a gesture of generosity and complete satisfaction. In particularly fine, expensive restaurants, double those figures. Note: If you put the tip on your credit card, the waiter probably won’t receive it.—Anthony Bay, Trusted Travel Expert for France

Read Anthony’s Insider’s Guides to Provence and the French Riviera

Greece

Parthenon, Athens, Greece. Photograph courtesy TrueGreece.

Parthenon, Athens, Greece. Photograph courtesy TrueGreece.

Tipping in Greece is sometimes expected, but it’s never required. It’s seen as a gesture of thanks for prompt and attentive service, and you are the judge of whether it’s warranted, but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. When you take a taxi, it is usually enough to round up to the next euro. At upscale restaurants, a tip of 10 to 15 percent is standard. At tavernas, it’s customary to leave 2 euros on the table; at a café, from 50 cents to 2 euros. In hotels, luggage handlers usually get 5 euros, and on island hotels, guests typically leave 10 euros per day for maids, servers, and other hotel staff at the end of their stay. Alternatively, for a stay of three or four days, guests might leave 50 euros for all hotel staff to share, while tipping porters separately.—Christos Stergiou, Trusted Travel Expert for Greece

Read Christos’s Insider’s Guides to Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini

Hungary

Budapest's Chain Bridge

Budapest’s Chain Bridge and, beyond it, Fisherman’s Bastion. Photo Wendy Perrin.

I generally make sure to tip in cash here (any currency works). About 10 percent for restaurants is just fine.—Gwen Kozlowski, Trusted Travel Expert for Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland

Read Gwen’s Insider’s Guide to Hungary including Budapest and the Danube

Ireland

Ring of Kerry, Killarney. Courtesy Jonathon Epstein

Ring of Kerry, Killarney. Courtesy Jonathon Epstein

Tips are appreciated in Ireland, but the rules are slightly different. It’s not necessary to tip when bags are brought to your room, for instance, and in restaurants we suggest 10 percent. For bartenders, I suggest leaving a bit by rounding up the tab. For transfers and guide services, ten to fifteen percent is acceptable. You can also leave a euro or two for housekeeping.—Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland and Scotland

Read Jonathan’s Insider’s Guide to Killarney and County Kerry, Ireland

Italy (Amalfi Coast and Lakes Region)

 

The view from the terrace of Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy. Photograph by Stefano Scatà.

The view from the terrace of Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy. Photograph by Stefano Scatà.

Tipping is appreciated but not at all expected. In restaurants and for taxi rides 10 percent is sufficient. If the person serving you is also the owner of the business, they would never expect a tip.—Andrea Grisdale, Trusted Travel Expert for Italy

Read Andrea’s Insider’s Guides to the Amalfi Coast and the Lakes Region

Italy

Duomo Florence Italy

Duomo in Florence, Italy. Photo courtesy Brian Dore.

Italians don’t tip in restaurants. Yes, we know you’ve read that there is a standard 10 percent. Or that the bill is rounded up. Or that you are expected to leave a little something. This is bunk. Italians don’t tip in restaurants. (Italian staff are paid a living wage and/or are members of the owner’s family.) You can tip, if you really want to. Or if you feel the service was extraordinary. Or if you simply don’t trust us. Go ahead. But Italians don’t.—Maria Gabriella Landers and Brian Dore, Trusted Travel Experts for Italy

Read Maria and Brian’s Insider Guides to Florence, Venice, Tuscany, and Umbria

 Norway

Norway

Scenic Norway. Photo courtesy Jan Sortland.

Tipping is not mandatory or common in Norway, but if you give your private guide or driver the equivalent of $100 after a full day, he will be very happy! But nobody gets grumpy if you do not tip.—Jan Sortland, Trusted Travel Expert for Norway

Read Jan’s Insider’s Guide to Norway

Russia

Red Square at night, Moscow, Russia

Red Square at night, Moscow. Photograph courtesy of Dan Weisberg

Moscow and St. Petersburg are not tipping cities, so tip no more than 10 percent at restaurants and always in cash. If you leave the tip on your credit card slip, your server is unlikely to get it.—Greg Tepper, Trusted Travel Expert for Russia

Read Greg’s Insider’s Guides to Moscow and St. Petersburg

Scotland

Edinburgh-Scotland
You don’t need to tip doormen or bellmen, but you should tip drivers, guides, and caddies 10 to 15 percent. It’s not a rule, but I always leave change for barmen and housekeeping. At restaurants, tip 10 percent.—Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for England, Ireland and Scotland

Read Jonathan’s Insider’s Guide to Scotland

Spain

Madrid

Madrid. Photograph by Jaime Gros.

Spanish-born Virginia Irurita, one of our Trusted Travel Experts for Spain explains that tips are not customary here. As she writes in her Insider’s Guide to Madrid, “Everyone has a salary. If the service is really good, we usually round up the bills—leaving, say, 100 euros for an 85-euro meal. Same in a taxi. If the driver is nice and the fare is 4 euros, you give 5. On the other hand, if you don’t have change or don’t want to tip, there is no rule that says you have to.”  Mike Korn, another Trusted Travel Expert for Spain, adds that while Spanish people don’t tip very much, most travelers do, and waiters and bellhops have come to expect it.

Read Virginia’s Insider’s Guide to Barcelona, Madrid, and Andalusia’s Cities and Seaside

Read Mike’s Insider’s Guide to Porto and the Douro River Valley and Seville and Andalusia.

 Turkey

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

A 10 percent tip is customary in restaurants, and it should be offered in cash only, as servers prefer not to add it to the check. Also: locals do not tip taxi drivers.—Earl Starkey, Trusted Travel Expert for Turkey 

Read Earl’s Insider’s Guides to Istanbul and Cappadocia

 

Do you have your own tipping experiences to add? Share your advice in the comments.

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15 Comments

  1. Joanna Stockton

    I lived in Germany for over 30 years and the advice from our friends was to round up to the nearest Euro. We often left a little larger tip than that – a couple Euros. Germans get a living wage and therefore don’t expect a tip.

  2. Alissa van Tol

    I always find myself very interested in the idea of tipping in different countries, as other readers suggest, because I also would like to avoid hurt feelings on the part of hard-working staff. As an American who lives in Switzerland, married to a Dutchman, I am in a general state of confusion most of the time on the trips we take.
    In Switzerland, for example, tipping is currently at about 10% of the bill, and it is fine to leave it on the credit card slip when you pay at a restaurant. A few francs more at coffee bars is perfectly acceptable, or rounding up to the nearest franc and adding one to your total.
    Having said all this, I was absolutely gobsmacked by the tipping practice at our holiday destination in the Caribbean. On top of the astoundingly high prices charged for meals and spa treatments, there was an 18.5% service charged automatically added — whether we were satisfied with the service provided or not. On regular charges of around $500 for meals and/or spa services, that adds up. Fine: I gritted my teeth for this and got on with it, but what really disturbed me was that, underneath the subtotal, there was another line which suggested that I could add ANOTHER TIP for the person who actually provided my service! What in the world?! I understand that many islands in the Caribbean are desperately poor, but it really made me wonder if I felt happy to stay in a place that suggested that, out of a $102.00 tip, my actual service provider may not even see that money…
    I would prefer that servers and employees are paid a living wage, and that a tip revert to what it originally was: a SMALL financial pat on the back for a job extra well-done, and not a subsidy or a guilt induced shakedown.

  3. Jamie

    I just returned from a fabulous family vacation to Italy with our 9 and 13 year old children and would like to comment on the tipping question. So many websites say tip 10 – 15% while other websites say don’t tip at all. While planning our trip this past spring, we read that your experts were split on the answer as well. We decided to find out for ourselves – do you tip in Italy or not?
    We traveled from Venice to Rome – ate at small trattorias, pizzerias, coffee bars and a few fine dining restaurants. It became a fun game for us and everyone looked forward to the check arriving.
    We watched the people around us when the bill came and asked Italians sitting at nearby tables about tipping. Every Italian told us they tipped something. The did tell us to be careful of ‘tourist menus’ which have Service Included, then don’t tip.
    Our two week “polling” always got one of two answers – they either gave 2.50 euros per person or 10% of the cost of the bill.
    I highly recommend you try this with your children, it kept ours very interested, and the opportunity to interact with waiters, coffee baristas and locals. Everyone was happy to talk to our children and answer their questions. It became a great part of our vacation memories,

  4. Barbara Lee

    How do you gracefully leave the maids and/or housekeepers a tip? Do you leave money in an envelope with “Housekeeper” written on it? We rarely even see them during our stay and I don’t believe they would just take any money lying on the dresser. Thank you for any reply.

    1. Matt Henderson

      It may not be discreet, but I write “thanks” on a post-it note and just stick it to the tip so there is no confusion.

  5. Leo Metcalfe

    The advice for Spain says:
    “… tips are not customary here … Everyone has a salary.” And then goes on to say “If the service is really good, we usually round up the bills—leaving, say, 100 euros for an 85-euro meal.” Thus recommending a 17.6% tip in a country where “tips are no customary”. The recommendation for Amsterdam has a similarly nonsensical contradiction. I’m not sure I’ll be taking this web page very seriously as advice.

  6. constance konold

    Re tipping in France, for those of us who live here, it’s not exactly like this article suggests. If you buy a cup of coffee at the counter, no service charge is included, so if the coffee costs €1.60 or €1.80, you would leave the change from a €2 coin. The standard service change is 12.5%. In bistrots and brasseries, it’s expected that the client would round it up to 15% if he gets good service. It’s quite embarrassing that Americans do not know this and never leave even “a coin”, which the French do readily, “a coin” now being €2 per person at the table. In better restaurants, no matter what the service charge is, it is expected that you would leave 15 to 20%, on top of the service charge. I work in the hospitality industry and know that the wait staff, as well as hair dressers, in France really count on tips to flesh out their meager salaries, even though they are trained not to ask for them. Not leaving any tip at all sends the wrong message – that Americans are not only noisy, they also have no savoir-faire.

    1. Jamie Sparks

      Dear Constance,
      My very dear friends own a restaurant in NYC for the past 30 years. Only until recently did a European tip the wait staff. I remember all the stories of how the waiters who worked for them were so disappointed when a European sat in their section because they knew they would not get a tip. The reason the question comes up so often in USA is because we have always tipped here in the USA and Europeans did not. I just posted about my tipping experience on a recent trip to Italy and was very observant on tipping practices. We had lovely discussions with many Italians and the theme running through the older Italians response was that tipping was invented by the Americans. They used to laugh at Americans for leaving a tip but the younger generations now expect it. Ask your grandmother and grandfather.

  7. Alex Datsev

    Croatians are traditionally not a „tipping nation“, but this attitude is gradually changing and people like waiters, bartenders, and taxi drivers are happy to get tips. 10% of the total bill should be perfectly fine. Tipping does not need to be in the local currency; US dollars and Euro are widely accepted and appreciated. If you wish to tip, make sure you do so in cash, even when paying by credit card. Otherwise the tip will end into the pocket of the business owner, and not the person who provided the service.

  8. Jana Aylett-Wong

    This is very handy. How about similar comments for other places such as Asia or South America.

    1. Billie Cohen Post author

      Thanks Jana—you read my mind! We’ll be posting tipping guides to other regions soon.

  9. Jamil Khan

    Thanks for putting this together! Any advice on Croatia? I’ll be travelling to the northern coast this summer. It is good to know what to expect on my day trip to Venice, Italy.

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