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Tips for Tipping in Europe – How much to leave, when and why

Why do people leave a tip?

Depending on your culture and background, leaving a tip once you’ve eaten a meal might be something you normally do when you’ve enjoyed your experience in a restaurant. If it is not a normal thing for you, it’s insightful to understand why people tip – it’s generally for receiving good service.

It’s not a matter of pity which is how some tourists perceive it – it’s a symbol of gratitude and appreciation for someone who has contributed to the enjoyment of our experience.

Even though it may not seem like a some change could make a difference to someone’s life, if that person is always working hard to hopefully receive those extra tips it can soon add up and their dedication and hard work can provide them with something a little 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, it is a nice way to show that beyond verbal gratitude.

On occasions, we have felt so welcome and looked-after, that we have wondered why we received such special treatment! When we find out that it is the same service that everyone else receives it becomes apparent that this is just how things are and it’s very uplifting to feel cared for in that way by other people.

As a general rule, we don’t leave tips for coffee or other drinks where the bill is quite small (maybe 3-6 Euros) but when we eat somewhere for lunch or dinner we always do unless there was a reason we really didn’t enjoy the experience.

How much should I tip?

There are many conflicting opinions on how much to leave as a tip, and it is entirely down to the person. We like to tip in countries that are very affordable to us, as we so frequently experience top-notch service and know that those people do not earn much money despite this.

So we have created a quick and easy guide on how much to tip depending on the experience.

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% 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 – 15-20%

  • 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 it comes to travelling in Europe, as normal as it is to tip people that help us, don’t worry if you can’t manage to leave anything some times.

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

But remember, if you are tight on money – a restaurant with table service probably isn’t the best way to help yourself!

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