Traveling through Europe is an adventure. There's a lot of history and culture to absorb. There's also a lot of rules when it comes to etiquette. One such rule is how to tip. It's not always cut and dry. Europe approaches tipping differently than what's done in the U.S. By not knowing these rules, you risk committing a faux pas and, at worst, insulting the recipient.
Tipping Food Servers in Europe
In the U.S., servers' tips are an integral part of their income. Tipping is the standard. While in Europe, tipping is considered a bonus for exceptional service and meals, however, it is not mandatory. Five to 15 percent is all that's expected. Or, you can just round up the dinner bill. Tipping in cash is the norm. No gratuity is required if the service is bad.
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Make sure, when tipping, that you hand the tip directly to the server. You don't want to leave it on the table.
In some countries, like France and Denmark, restaurants include a tip in the final bill. It is noted as a service charge. So, check if it's on the bill and the percentage before you decide to tip.
Taxi Drivers and Tips
Although taxi drivers don't expect a tip, the locals will often round a fare up for convenience's sake. Overall, it's not necessary. If the service was really good, feel free to add a few euros.
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The rule of thumb is to tip when the service is rendered. For instance, don't wait until the end of your five-night stay to tip the cleaning staff. Leave a euro, or local equivalent, tip on your pillow every day.
Tip the porter or bellhop one euro or local equivalent for each bag they carry. Do it at the time of service. That also goes for the doormen and any other hotel staff that are of service.
Don't forget the concierge. This person can be indispensable when you're new to a city. Help getting that elusive dinner reservation or tickets to a show is invaluable. It is appropriate to tip them 5 to 10 euros, depending on how much help they were.
Europe approaches tipping differently than what's done in the U.S.
Tour Directors and Guides
Tipping the people associated with providing tours for you in Europe is typically customary. The tour director should receive, depending on service, the equivalent of $7 to $10 per day. The bus driver and any local guides will also need tipping – $3 per day for the bus driver and $2 per tour for the local guide.
There are some countries where tipping the guide is not expected. They include:
- Finland (tipping government employees who provide a tour is illegal)
Make sure you always carry euros or the local currency if you're in a country that does encourage tipping.
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There are countries in which no tipping is necessary. For instance, there's no tipping needed in the Scandinavian countries. These include:
All tips are automatically built into the service charge. This includes restaurants.
Choose Your Total
In the U.S. they say "keep the change." In some European countries, you tell the server what you want to pay. For instance, if the bill comes to $24.99, you might tell the server $27. You can hand your credit card over or cash, and $27 is what you will be charged. Some countries that go by this tradition include:
- Czech Republic
This makes tipping clean and straightforward.
No Tips for Bags or Housekeeping
It's customary to tip per bag when a bellhop or porter wrangle all your totes. But in two countries, they don't ask or want tips for carrying your bags to hotel rooms. Don't expect to tip for this service in Ireland and Scotland.
Great Britain is willing to keep your rooms clean for no additional charge. So it's not necessary or expected to tip the cleaning staff.