Tipping in Europe can be tricky, there are a lot of differing opinions about tipping especially in countries like Italy, Spain and Greece. Some people claim that it is rude to tip in these countries as they are not expecting it and therefore leave nothing, afraid to anger the locals;. other people just tip as they would in their home country. However you have to realize that while each country has their own feelings about tipping, it’s really not all that complicated. After living in both Greece and Italy I came up with a little system for myself that worked quite well and I thought I would share it with you because when I was a tour guide this was probably the most frequently asked question.
When it comes to dining it all depends on where you are deciding to eat. For a quick coffee or pizza or gyro to go you can leave as little as nothing or up to .10c. I would leave that amount if I would drink my coffee standing up at the bar or when I would get pizza to go. If you sit down and order however, one you will be charged more and two you should leave a slightly larger tip, around .50c. If you are sitting down at a casual restaurant for lunch or dinner, my general rule of thumb is to round the bill up. So if your lunch cost 22euro you should leave 25euro. If you spent 57euro leave 60euro. One of the reasons that the tipping rate is not so high in Europe is because often times the tip is actually already added in the form of a service fee. In Italy you will often see “servizio” on the bill and this is essential the tip or occasionally you will also see “coperto” which is a cover charge. Its kinda like them charging you for the use of the silverware and the dishes. You could also see a “pane” charge as well, which is actually the charge for the bread. Remember if you don’t want to pay for the bread just send it back, it’s not a problem. You can see variations of this on menus all over Europe. The prices are listed usually small on the menu at the bottom so just keep an eye out for them. Now for nicer restaurants there usually is not a cover or service charge and I recommend tipping about 10-15%. Tipping in Europe is usually not as high as in other places, especially the states. Now of course if you have exceptional service feel free to tip more in any of these situations. I have never seen someone offended by tipping personally and I am sure everyone likes to be noticed for providing good service.
Now restaurants are usually the toughest thing to figure out for tipping but there are a few more things I wanted to cover as well. For starters, Taxis. Taxis you usually do not have to tip but once again if you have had great service feel free to give them a few euros, nothing extravagant, just use the principle of rounding up. Also just a note on taxis make sure you are paying the proper amount. More often than not taxis will try to take advantage of people new to the city so just do some simple research and check out the average prices and also the inter city rates. Another thing you should think about when tipping is at bars. Now in the US we usually tip at bars for every drink. I usually use this tactic but once again I usually don’t tip as much. If your beer is 4.50euros than leave 5euro. Once you get into the swing of things tipping in Europe is easy. Just think, roundup.
The last thing I want to talk about in regards to tipping is tour guides. If you are taking a tour it is customary to leave a tip. Now its up to you how much you give but generally tips run from 5euros to 20euros depending on the tour. If you are getting a free tour I highly suggest you tip because the guides are paid only from the tips. If you are taking a small group tour (under 20 people) for about 3 hours/half a day I would recommend tipping about 10euros if you are in a group under 4 people. If there are more people in your group I would suggest a little more. And then finally if you are taking a full day tour or a multiple day tour I would recommend tipping about 20euros for your group (once again under 4 people).
These are just some helpful guidelines for you to figure out tipping. As I said its not that confusing once you think about it and just remember when in doubt round up and you will be fine. I’ve never encountered anyone getting mad because they received a tip and its actually now becoming more common place to give tips in Europe. So don’t be afraid to give tips you feel people deserve and don’t let people tell you that they don’t tip in Europe because they do, just in a slightly different way than in the states. Hope my guidelines help for your next adventure!
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