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Tipping Etiquette on the European Continent

Last updated 11.11.2020

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How much should you be tipping in Europe? If you don't want to seem rude, this can be stressful to consider on a trip. But it shouldn't be.
Reading time: 5 minutes.

Many travelers can brag about their ability to find the best accommodation or restaurants in the country they are visiting. Few of them can brag about knowing when and where a service should be rewarded. And escpecially with tipping in Europe.

In some parts of the world, it’s compulsory to leave a tip. In others, it can be interpreted as an insult. For that reason, it is advisable to do your research about the local customs of the country you are visiting.

Do you want to avoid embarrassing situations and find out which countries welcome tips and which don’t? Then keep on reading! We are bringing you a list with the most important rules of the tipping conduct in Europe. 

1. The Nordics

copenhagen-coffee

The Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland) are famous for having service charges included in prices.

This applies to most service facilities such as restaurants, cafes, salons, and even taxis, which saves visitors from calculating how much they should tip.

These countries are also famous for some of the highest wages in the world. This means, there is really no need for tipping in order to compensate for a low salary.

Service employees take pride in their work, especially waiters. Leaving a tip can even end up insulting them.

If you want, you can round up to the nearest crown/euro, but even that is not custom in the Nordics.

2. Tipping in UK and Ireland

London Coffee

In the UK and Ireland, the tipping culture is not as strong, but a lot of people (both locals and guests) like to leave small tips.

The cost of the service is generally included in the cost of the bill in order to reduce the hassle of calculating how much you should leave.

Most restaurants and bars will include a 12.5 percent tip in your bill. You can recognize that when you see something like “service at 12.5%” at the bottom of your bill.

If the service charge is not clearly stated on the bill, you are free to decide for yourself how much money (if any) you will leave for the service. There is usually a rule that you leave a 10 percent tip in cases where the waiter has served you at the table, while a tip is not expected in self-service places.

3. Tipping in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland

German Meal

These countries have a slightly different tipping culture.

Even though the bill usually covers the service charge, it is common to add 5 to 10 percent as a tip to round up.

The interesting part is that when paying your bill, you let the server know exactly how much they should charge you (including the tip).

Let’s say the total cost of your dinner was 42 euros, you can give the server 50 euros and ask them to charge you 45 euros. This means that the server can keep 3 euros as a tip. 

4. Tipping in Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy

Summer street cafe

In these countries, the service can be included in the bill, but it doesn’t have to be.

The tipping culture is not strong at all. Especially in France where the servers are known to be extremely reserved and even rude. 

However, if you are visiting these lovely countries, it is considered polite to round up the bill to the nearest euro when paying. Especially if you had a good experience or if you were a demanding guest.

5. Tipping in Eastern Europe

budapest
warsaw

In the poorest region of Europe, tipping is welcome to make up for the low wages. However, it is not mandatory, just like everywhere else in Europe.

Hungary and Romania are an exception when it comes to the tipping culture. It is quite common to tip everyone here, from hairdressers to public restroom attendants.

A good piece of advice for paying in Eastern European restaurants is to avoid saying “thank you” when giving a large bill to the server. This is because it is usually a discreet way of saying “keep the change”. In this situation, you should not expect to get anything back. Instead, try to give the exact amount (including the tip) in cash to the server. This way, you will avoid any misunderstandings.

It is also good to keep in mind that if any musicians play at your table while you enjoy your dinner, they will probably expect a small reward.

6. Final advice on tipping in Europe

Meal payment

There you have it – a guide for tipping in different regions of Europe.

We didn’t include every single one. However, a general rule for all European countries is that leaving a tip of around 10 percent is accepted, but completely voluntary.

Use common sense, and if you can, reward those who delivered a good service. For example, if you are twelve people eating at a restaurant, and you ask the waiter to charge everyone separately. Then make sure to show your gratitude.

Another thing that applies to all countries is that you should leave tips in cash. The server who was with you the whole evening might never see the money you leave to them if paying by card. If you can, give the cash to them directly and don’t leave it on the table. This way, you avoid it getting in the wrong hands.

If you want more tips and tricks, then check out this guide with useful tips for any traveler!

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Fani Bosak
Born and raised in Croatia, Fani is a content marketer at Lentii with a deep passion for all things traveling.
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