Tipping in Europe – The Quick and Easy Guide

Tipping is a subject many people have differing opinions on. If you’re planning a trip in Europe, you might wonder when tipping is appropriate and when it’s not expected of you.

It all boils down to the location you’re in and the circumstances.

So to answer all of your questions about tipping in Europe, we’ve put together this useful guide to help you have a more relaxing trip.

Why do people leave a tip?

Depending on your culture and background, leaving a tip once you’ve enjoyed an experience might be something you normally do.

If tipping is something that’s alien to you, but you want to make a great impression as a visitor, it’s important to understand why people tip.

Tip: it’s to say “thank you” for good service!

Tipping is not a matter of pity like some might perceive it. Tipping is a symbol of gratitude and appreciation for someone who has contributed to the enjoyment of your experience.

Even though it may not seem like it, a small amount of spare change could make a difference to someone’s life. If that person is always working hard to try and receive tips, in the end it can add-up and provide them with something extra to take home at the end of the day.

When should I leave a tip?

When you decide to leave a tip is entirely up to you. If you feel like you have been helped by someone or they have been particularly good at what they do, tipping is a nice way to show that beyond verbal gratitude.

On occasions, we have felt so welcome and looked-after, that we’ve wondered why we received such special treatment!

Only to discover it’s the same treatment that everyone received. Eventually it becomes apparent that this is just how good service feels and and it’s very uplifting to feel cared for in that way.

As a general rule – we don’t leave tips for coffee or other drinks where the bill is quite small (maybe 3-6 Euros).

When we eat at a cafe or restaurant for lunch or dinner, we always tip unless there was a reason that we really didn’t enjoy the experience.

How much should I tip?

There are many conflicting opinions on this. How much you should leave as a tip is entirely up to you.

We like to tip more generously in countries that we find very affordable. So often do we experience top-notch service in a country that is unbelievably affordable.

And often, we find that those working in the service industry in these countries go above-and-beyond to deliver the very best service; despite receiving painfully low wages.

This is how we calculate how much to leave when tipping in Europe.

No Tip

  • The waiting staff took an excessive amount of time to hand us a menu
  • The food took an excessive amount of time to arrive
  • The quality of food was poor – not cooked properly/rancid (not if we didn’t like the taste, that is subjective)
  • We were not treated in a polite or welcoming manner
  • The waiting staff did not look after us or asked if we needed anything else
  • The table took an excessive amount of time to be cleared

Normal Tip – 10-15% of total bill

  • The waiting staff greeted us and gave us a menu promptly
  • The food arrived in good time and in a logical order
  • The food was fresh and of a high quality
  • We were treated like guests and made to feel welcome and at home
  • The waiting staff were attentive and came to check on us regularly
  • The table was cleared and coffee/dessert was offered
  • The staff could explain dishes in the menu

Great Tip – 15-25%

  • The waiting staff gave us an exceptional welcome and presented us clean menus
  • The food arrived in good time and in a logical order
  • The food was very fresh and looked and tasted of the highest quality
  • We felt like family with how much we felt cared for
  • The waiting staff paid close attention to our table and achieved a perfect balance of being helpful and leaving us be
  • The cleanliness of the table was closely managed at all times
  • The staff went out of their way to try and accommodate for our needs or requests
  • The staff could articulately explain the menu and offered recommendations of what dishes they liked the most
  • We were thanked for our custom and asked to come back again some time

So when you next travel through Europe, you’ll be prepared for the next time your bill arrives at the table. Any stress associated with knowing when and how to tip will be removed and you can truly enjoy your trip.

Remember: sometimes showing a member of staff your gratitude can lead to other great things.

On top of complementary items, on more than one occasion we have made new friends and been invited to experiences that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

We should always remember that tipping is not an expectation, so don’t worry if you can’t manage to leave a tip, it shouldn’t prevent you from having a new experience.

If money is getting tight, don’t make things worse for yourself by giving some extra money when you really can’t afford to.

And eating at a restaurant with table service during this time probably isn’t the best way to help yourself!

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