Tipping in Europe

Handwritten receipt in Paris restaurant
The prices on this French restaurant tab already include a service charge — so you don't have to leave anything extra unless the service was exceptional.
Tipping a taxi driver in Turkey
To tip a helpful cab driver, like this happy one in Turkey, simply round up the fare.
By Rick Steves

Here's a tip: Don't stress over tipping.

While tips are appreciated no matter where you travel, tipping in Europe isn't as automatic nor as generous as it is in the US, and in many countries, tips aren't expected at all. The proper amount depends not only on the country you're in, but also on your resources, tipping philosophy, and the circumstances. Still, some general guidelines apply.


Restaurant tips are more modest in Europe than in America. Servers are paid a living wage, and tips are considered a small bonus — to reward great service or for simplicity in rounding the total bill to a convenient number. In many countries, 5 percent is adequate and 10 percent is considered a nice tip. Locals just leave coins on the table, round up, or often don't tip at all.

Resist the urge to tip American-style. If your bucks talk at home, muzzle them on your travels. As a matter of principle — if not economy — the local price should prevail. Please believe me — tipping 15 or 20 percent in Europe is unnecessary, if not culturally ignorant. You're just raising the bar and messing up the local balance. And it's bad style.

Tipping is an issue only at restaurants with table service. If you order food at a counter (in a pub, for example), don't tip. At sit-down restaurants, the tipping etiquette and procedure vary slightly from country to country.

In Mediterranean countries, the "service charge" (servizio in Italian, service in French, servicio in Spanish) can be handled in different ways. Sometimes the menu will note that the service is included ("servizio incluso"), meaning that the prices listed on the menu already have this charge built into the price. When the service is not included ("servizio non incluso"), the service charge might show up as a separate line item at the end of your bill. Most fixed-price tourist deals include service.

In the northern and eastern parts of Europe, the menu or bill is less likely to address the "service charge," but you can usually assume that it's included in the prices. Lately, some restaurants — especially those in well-touristed areas in Germany and Austria — have added a "Tip is not included" line, in English, to the bottom of the bill. This is misleading, as the prices on any menu in these countries do include service. I wouldn't tip one cent more at a restaurant that includes this note on the bill.

Since most European credit-card slips don't have a line for adding a tip, plan on tipping in cash. Typically, it's better to hand the tip to the server when you're paying your bill than to leave it on the table, particularly in busy places where the wrong party might pocket the change.

In Germanic countries, rather than leaving coins behind on the table (considered slightly rude), locals usually pay directly: When the server comes by with the bill, simply hand over paper money, stating the total you'd like to pay. For example, if paying for a €10 meal with a €20 bill, say "Eleven, please" (or "Elf, bitte" if you've got your German numbers down) while handing your money to the server. The server will thank you, keep a €1 tip, and give you €9 in change.

Don't stress about tipping in Europe. If you're unsure what to give, ask a local (but not a server) about the tipping norms for that country. Virtually anywhere in Europe, you can do as the Europeans do and (if you're pleased with the service) add a euro or two for each person in your party. In very touristy areas, some servers have noticed the American obsession with overtipping — and might hope for a Yankee-sized tip. But the good news is that European servers and diners are far more laid-back about all this than we are. Any tip is appreciated, the stakes are low, and it's no big deal if you choose the "wrong" amount. Don't lose sleep over walking out of a restaurant in Europe without tipping.


For a typical ride, round up to the next euro on the fare (to pay a €13 fare, give €14); for a long ride, to the nearest 10 (for a €76 fare, give €80). If the cabbie hauls your bags and zips you to the airport to help you catch your flight, you might want to toss in a little more. But if you feel like you're being driven in circles or otherwise ripped off, skip the tip.

Local guides

Guides who give talks at public sights or on bus or boat tours sometimes hold out their hands for tips after they give their spiel. If I've already paid for the tour or admission to the sight, I don't tip extra (but if you want to tip, a euro or two is enough for a job well done).

If taking a group tour — for instance, a two-hour city walking tour — a tip of €2–5 per person is appropriate, depending on the size of the group (the higher tip is for small groups). For a couple of hours with a private guide, a tip of €10–20 for the group is fine (more if the guide goes above and beyond, such as booking advance tickets or arranging for a driver for you).


At hotels with porters, give a euro for each bag they carry. It's nice (but optional) to leave a small tip in your room for the housekeeping staff when you depart.

Other services

In general, if someone in the service industry does a super job for you, a tip of a couple of euros is appropriate…but not required.

When in doubt, ask. The French and British generally tip hairdressers, the Dutch and Swedish usually don't. If you're not sure whether (or how much) to tip for a service, ask a local for advice; they'll fill you in on how it's done on their turf.