Tipping in Europe is different from the custom we have in the US. Rather than being mandatory, your decision to leave a tip is at your own discretion. While wait staff, bartenders, cab drivers, hotel staff, and tour guides do not rely on tips, gratuities are generally appreciated.
Some restaurants in European countries will apply a service charge of 10-15% of the balance to your bill. If this is the case, it is usually advertised on the menu and itemized on the check. This is typical in upscale restaurants or if you are eating as part of a larger group. There is no need to leave a tip on top of the service charge.
At smaller eateries and cafes, a service charge is not generally applied but you may tip based on how satisfied you were with the service received and the quality of the meal. As a guideline, you can leave 5-10% of the total amount, or simply round up the figure.
If you only order a drink at a bar or pub in Europe, you are not expected to tip the bartender. However, if table service is provided, it is a gesture of goodwill to leave a cash tip. Again, leave no more than 5-10% of the bill or round up the amount.
Some bars will keep a tip jar on the bar counter where you can drop in loose change. In this case, the total amount is split between the bar staff.
If the porter assists with your bags, it is customary to hand them a cash tip of €1-5 (or equivalent in the local currency) based on how much luggage you have and how many flights of stairs they endured. After all, not all properties in Europe have elevators!
While it isn’t expected to tip housekeeping staff, a tip in the region of €1-2 per night will never cause offense.
It isn’t customary to tip cab drivers in European countries. If you receive exemplary service – for example, if your driver helps you with your luggage – you may wish to round up the figure or ask the driver to keep the change.
If you book a multi-day tour in Europe, it generally is the norm to hand your guide a cash tip on the final day as a lump sum. This will depend on the style of the itinerary, how attentive your guide was, and your overall satisfaction. Aim to tip in the region of €15-30 per day per couple or family.
Tips-based walking tours have boomed in European cities. Often advertised as “free” tours, a tip of €5-10 per person based on the experience received will be highly appreciated by your guide.
While this is a general guide to tipping in Europe, it is always wise to undertake additional research based on the specifics of your itinerary. A professional travel planner will help you navigate the tipping culture in your chosen destination.