How to Tip in Europe

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Tipping in foreign countries is something that often causes a lot of concern and confusion. The tipping etiquette in Europe is very different to the USA (and many other parts of the world). In actual fact, it is common for Americans to over-tip in Europe to the point where their good will can sometimes be exploited.

“Should I tip X?” and “How much should I tip?” are two of the most common questions asked when visiting a new country/region. This guide should help you to better understand the tipping culture and etiquette of Europe, so that you’ll know when and how much you should be tipping people as you travel.

Tipping

Tipping in Restaurants

Here’s a few things to remember when tipping in restaurants:

  • A 10-15% tip is more than enough – Waiters and restaurant staff in Europe don’t rely on tips as much as those in the USA as they’re paid decent hourly rates. Because of this, a 10% tip is greatly appreciated.
  • Tip before change is given – If you receive a €15 bill and you want to tip them €2 (making €17 total) be sure to tell the waiter (or write on the bill) “€17”so that they can bring you back your €3 change. This reduces the amount of times they have to run back and forth to the till, making it greatly appreciated.
  • Tips are sometimes included in the bill – Sometimes you may find that the tip (listed as ‘service charge’) is already included in the bill, so make sure to read the bill carefully before adding on another 15% tip! Also not that sometimes a service charge will be automatically added if you have a large party (e.g 10+ people eating), whereas it wouldn’t be if there were only two of you eating.
  • Only waiters & waitresses need tipping – If you go to a restaurant where you order food/drinks at a counter (such as in most pubs in England), tipping is no necessary. Only waiters and waitresses will expect you to tip them.

Tipping Taxi Drivers

While it’s not necessary to tip taxi drivers, you might feel like you want to if they help you with your bags and make sure you get to the airport on time. In general, it’s best to round the fare up by around 5-10%. For example, if the journey costs £9.20 you might want to round it up to £10.

Tipping Bar Staff

When ordering drinks in a pub, bar or club, it’s rarely necessary to tip the bar staff and it will never be expected (unless stated otherwise in the bar/club).

However tipping the bar staff at the start of the night will help you get served more quickly once the place gets busy, so it can sometimes be a good idea.

Other Occasions – Should You Tip or Not?

During your travels of Europe there might be times when you’re unsure whether to tip a person or not.

For example, at the end of a walking tour a guide may ask for tips from the group. If you’ve already paid for the tour, it’s not necessary to tip unless you really want to. On free tours, however, it is best to tip a small amount as ‘payment’ (€2+) as this is the only way a tour guide will earn money.

Porters at high-end hotels will expect a small payment for carrying your luggage (generally €1 per bag). Make sure to tip if your luggage is particularly heavy.

Of course, whether to tip or not is always your decision, and is always a nice way of letting someone know you appreciate their service.

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