Europe — Suggested tipping amounts worldwide

By Philip Wagenaar
This item appears on page 59 of the November 2013 issue.

(First of two parts)

The guide had been fantastic on our visit to Guilin, China, in October 2000. She had done a perfect job explaining everything in excellent English while a constant smile lit up her face. Although the girl seemed young for a guide, my wife, Flory, and I were so impressed that we decided to give her extra money, even though tipping is not customary in China. Subsequently, the girl became upset and refused to take the offered gratuity.

On another occasion, a taxi driver in Denmark, who had helped me place my bicycle inside his taxi, was dismayed when I paid him more than the fare shown on the meter.

It is important to know customary tipping rules, since they vary from one country to the next. In some countries, not giving a tip is considered a blunder, while in others, tendering one might be considered strange or rude or is prohibited. In a number of countries, service employees earn a decent wage and don’t have to rely on gratuities to supplement their income. In others, these employees hardly earn a living wage and rely on tips for their livelihood. 

Even though guidebooks warn travelers against tipping in countries where it is not customary, many US tourists continue this practice. As a result, in a number of venues, people in the service industry have become accustomed to receiving gratuities from US travelers but don’t expect them from people of other nationalities. My motto for this is “In Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Keep in mind that in certain restaurants, although the service charge is included, the wait staff may not receive that money. In these establishments, when offering any additional gratuity, you should hand it directly to the server.


As a reference for ITN subscribers, I have done research on how much a person should tip for various services in many countries around the world and compiled that information in the list below.

The information has been culled from my experience, the Internet (including, and and more. I compared a number of different websites to make sure they all gave similar information.

Before leaving on a trip, it is advisable to revisit the Web to look for major changes in tipping habits.

For readers who use apps, for Android download “The Global Tipping Guide Pro” and for Apple download “Global Tipping” from iTunes.

In this month’s column, I present recommended guidelines for tipping in a number of European countries, where, generally, it is a legal requirement to include all taxes when quoting prices.

Within these nations, typically, each restaurant will post a menu outside that includes prices and states whether or not a service charge is included. 

The bill is presented to you only when you ask for it. If you don’t know the language, you can always request the bill by making a movement with your fingers as if you are writing.

When tipping, rounding to a multiple of a currency unit is common. (A bill of 6.40 would be paid as 7 or 8. A restaurant bill of 36 could be paid as 40. For small amounts, round up to 0.50.)

Hand the waitperson the money and tell him/her how much you want back. Typically, you don’t leave the tip on the table. 

Since servers may not receive the gratuity when you add it to a credit card, you should hand the extra amount directly to the waiter. 

Restaurants and cafés in many countries don’t offer free coffee or tea refills. In French-speaking countries, if you want hot coffee or tea with your meal and not before, ask for “café, thé avec le repas” (“coffee, tea with the meal”). In countries where people comprehend German, ask for “kaffee, tee mit dem Essen” (“coffee, tea with the meal”).

When tipping hotel staff during a longer stay, I usually tip half at the beginning of my vacation, the other half at the end.

Do not tip government personnel (helpful policeman, doorman in front of a government building, etc.).


For the list of European countries and their tipping options, shown on the next page, I used the following abbreviations: 

Restaurant = Restaurant bill. SCI  = Service charge is included. SCNI = Service charge is not included. RU = Round up. P = Porter per bag. HK = Housekeeping staff daily tip. Taxi = Taxi driver. Hair = Hairdresser. Barber = Barber. Gas = Full-serve attendant at gas station. Theater = Theater usher. Toilet = Toilet attendant. No = No tipping.


Austria To ask for the bill, say, “Zahlen, bitte” (“Pay, please”). Saying “Danke” (“Thank you”) when you give the money to the server means ‘Keep the change.’ The same expressions are used in Germany.

Restaurant: 5%-10% or RU (the fancier the restaurant, the more you tip). Porter: 1-2. Taxi: 10%. Hair/Barber: 10%-15%. Gas: 1-2. Theater: 0.50-1. Toilet: 0.50.

Belgium Tipping uncommon, as SCI in all bills, even hairdressers’, but RU when satisfied.

Restaurant: No or RU; the fancier the restaurant, the more you tip. Taxi: No. Hair/Barber: No. Gas: No. Theater: 1. Toilet: 0.30-0.50.

Croatia Restaurant: In most cases, tip and taxes are included in the bill, so tipping is not necessary; RU when SCNI. Porter: 10-20 kuna. Taxi: RU. Hair/Barber: RU.

Czech Republic Restaurant: SCI by law, but RU for good service; in tourist areas, 5%-10%. Taxi: RU; in tourist areas, 10%.

Denmark Tipping is uncommon. Restaurant: RU only for good service. Taxi: No.

Estonia Some restaurants have a tip jar. Restaurant: 10%. Taxi: Let the driver keep the change.

Finland Tipping is uncommon. Restaurant: Since SCI, there is No tipping. Taxi: No. 

France Restaurant: SCI; menu usually shows “service compris” (service included) or “ttsc” (all taxes and service charge included), thus No tipping necessary. If good service, leave a few euros.

Germany Restaurant: SCI (service charge is called Bedienung); RU up to 5%-10%. You pay for drinking water unless you ask for tap water, which is called Leitungswasser. (See Austria.)

Greece Wages are low in Greece. Restaurant: Tipping is optional; RU or 10%-15%. (Some restaurant owners do not allow staff to keep the tips.) Porters: 1-3. Taxi: RU or none. 

Hungary Restaurant: If SCNI, leave 10%. Note that if SCI, management often will keep tips, so ask! Taxi: 10%. Hair/Barber: 25%. Gas: Yes.

The following is paraphrased from

Hungary is a very tip-conscious society and virtually everyone routinely tips waiters, hairdressers and taxi drivers. Doctors and dentists accept “gratitude money,” and even gas station attendants and thermal spa attendants expect something. 

In Hungary, the way you tip in restaurants is unusual. You never leave the money on the table; this is considered both rude and stupid. Instead, tell the waiter how much you’re paying in total. 

If the bill is, say, 2,700 forint, you’re paying with a 5,000-forint note and you think the waiter deserves a gratuity of around 10%, first ask if service is included (some restaurants in Budapest and other big cities add it to the bill automatically, which makes tipping unnecessary). If it isn’t, say you’re paying 3,000 forint or that you want 2,000 forint back.

Iceland No tipping.

Ireland Restaurant: If NSCI, leave 10%. P: 1-2. Taxi: RU or 5%-10%. HA: 10%. Barber: 1-2.

Italy Restaurant: If SCNI, RU. In cafés and bars, when SCI, saying “Tenga il resto” (“Keep the change”) is common. P: Tip porters in upscale hotels only. Taxi: No.

Kosovo Restaurant: No.

Netherlands Restaurant: SCI; RU or tip up to 10%.

Norway Restaurant: SCI everywhere, but RU or 6%-10% if service satisfactory. Taxi: No or RU.

Poland Restaurant: 10%-15%. Wait for your change. If you hand the waiter cash and say, “Thank you,” it means that you want the waiter to keep the change. Taxi: No.

Portugal Restaurant: Usually SCNI; leave 10%. In an upscale restaurant, a serviço (service charge) may be included. (Note that in each restaurant you will be charged for every appetizer you eat, not for the ones you leave on the table untouched.) P: 1-2. Taxi: RU. 

Romania Usually SCNI. Tipping is the norm. Restaurant: 10%. P: Tipping is the norm. Taxi: 10%. Hair/Barber: 10%.

Russia Restaurant: If SCNI, tip 10%-15% only if there are waiters. P: $1-$2 in rubles. HK: $1-$2 in rubles.

Serbia Restaurant: Tipping is not obligatory, but if you are satisfied, leave 10%-15% even if SCI. Taxi: RU. Hair/Barber: Yes. 

Slovakia Restaurant: RU or up to 10%.

Slovenia Restaurant: If no SCI, tip 10%. Taxi: RU.

Spain Restaurant: SCI is a given; nevertheless, most customers RU or (uncommonly) tip up to 10%. P: 1. Taxi: RU. HK: 1. Hotel: If SCI, it must be stated in the bill. Tipping is by choice; in upscale venues, hotel workers might expect a tip. 

Sweden Restaurant: Tipping is not mandatory. If satisfied, RU or 5%-10%. Taxi: RU. Hair/Barber: No.

Switzerland Restaurant: SCI. Nevertheless, RU to maximum 5 francs. At cafés and bars, RU to nearest franc.

Turkey Turkish bath: 15% divided among all attendants. Tipping a government worker, nurse or doctor is prohibited. Restaurant: 10% if satisfied. P: Small tip. Taxi: RU. Hair/Barber: Small tip.

United Kingdom Restaurant: If SCNI, leave 10% or, in upscale restaurant, 12%-15%. In pubs, tip only when there’s table service, not when ordering at the bar. Taxi: 10% or RU. Toilet: 0.50 pence.

That’s all, for now. Guidelines on tipping in a number of other countries will be presented in this column next month.