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How should I tip in restaurants in Europe?

Tipping is complicated, and is only made more so when traveling somewhere new. Standards are different almost everywhere you go, and different establishments often have different tipping expectations.

Gratuities in Europe are often expected, but less generous than in places like the United States. In general, European servers are well-paid, with tips as a small bonus or for the simplicity of just rounding the total bill to a convenient number. In most countries, 5 percent is adequate, 10 percent is for exceptional service, and 20 percent is excessive. Over tipping is not just unnecessary, if can be culturally insensitive.

How to tip can also be different between countries. A service charge is often added to the bill and require no additional tip. If you order your food at a counter (in a pub, for example), you usually don't tip. The menu may note that the service is included meaning that the prices listed in the menu already have this charge built in. Fixed-price tourist deals include service.

    Service Charge - Final bill will be subject to an additional charge; no further tips are necessary.
  • servizio incluso in Italian
  • service compris in French
  • servicio incluido in Spanish

In many cases, you can tip very simply by rounding up the total a euro or two if you're pleased with the service. It is usually best to hand the tip to the waiter when you're paying your bill than to leave it on the table, particularly in busy places where the wrong party might pocket the change. In most of Europe, servers prefer to be tipped in cash even if you pay with your credit card.

Here is a basic guide for what to tip in different areas of Europe.

Austria

Tip is often included, but is common to give a little tip if you think the service was good. When settling the bill with the server, state how much he should keep as tip. For example, if the bill is 42 euros, hand over 50 euro and say "45".
At a cafe, a tip is not necessary. It is acceptable to round up to the nearest euro; for example paying 2 euro for a 1,90 cafe.

Bulgaria

Tip is usually not included, so tip 10 percent for adequate service.

Czech Republic

The tip (spropitne, dysko) is usually included in the bill and should be about 10 percent. A service charge must be noted on the menu to be legal, and tax is already included in the menu price. There have been issues (especially in touristy cities) of an added fee being added by the waiter. You should be able to understand the bill, so ask if you have a question about a charge. It is common to just round up your bill to the nearest 10, and hand it to the server.

Finland

Servers are usually well paid and tips are not expected. Leaving a tip is considered a kind gesture.

France

A 15 percent service charge is automatically added to your bill by law, but most people round up a restaurant bill for an additional tip (pourboire) unless the service was unsatisfactory. In Paris, an extra 10 percent is expected for good service.

Germany

If service is not included in your bill, a 10 percent tip (trinkgeld) can be added for good service. A tip is usually only given for sit-down service. When settling the bill with the server, state how much he should keep as tip. For example, if the bill is 42 euros, hand over 50 euro and say "45". You can also tell them to keep the change by saying "Es stimmt so".

Greece

Service charges are not usually included. If there is a service charge, you leave a few Euro for the waiter and also some change for for the busboy. However, a "cover charge" is common and applies to the cost to cover the table when you sit down, and includes your bread and non-bottled water. Tipping is usually determined by the setting. If you are dining at an upscale establishment, tip more than if you are simply having coffee at a cafe.

Ireland

If there's no service charge, tip between 10-15 percent.
In pubs, a tip is not left unless drinks are brought to the table by lounge staff, in which case tips are not obligatory, but are often given.

Italy

A "cover charge" is common and applies to the cost to cover the table when you sit down, and includes your bread and non-bottled water. Service charge (servizio) is usually included, but if you received exceptional service, a 10 percent tip is welcome.
There are different price levels in Italy. Sitting down may require a tip, but take-away service will not. It is also differently regionally, where large cities welcome tips, but in rural areas tipping may be unwelcome.

Hungary

Some tourist-focused restaurants add a service charge, otherwise you should leave about a 10 percent tip. Hand the gratuity to the server as leaving a tip on the table is considered rude. If you want change, tell them exactly how much you want back.

Latvia

Service charge is usually included, but if not add 10 percent.

Netherlands

Tipping is only expected for excellent service. 10 percent is a good tip, but most instances only call for you to round up the bill to the nearest euro.

Norway

Tipping is usually expected in Norway with a scale of about 10 percent of the bill. There may be a service charge which should be noted in the bill. In bars or at cafes, just round up to the nearest krone.

Poland

Tip may be included in the bill. If not, tip about 10 percent, or 15 percent for excellent service. Wait staff is generally paid a low minimum wage and they expect to make tips.

Russia

Tipping is becoming more common. 10 to 15 percent is the accepted rate of tipping for an establishment with waitstaff. If it has walk up service, tipping is not expected. Tips are tricky in that too small or too large a tip can be an insult. The tipping rate often depends not only on the quality of service, but also the tipper's desire to impress. Foreign tourists, particularly Americans, are perceived to be rich and expected to tip more.

Slovenia

Tipping is slowly becoming a custom in Slovenia. A service charge is not usually included in the bill. Tourist areas are most familiar with tipping of about 10 percent.

Spain

Tipping (propina) is not that common and should only be given for excellent service. 5 to 10 percent is an adequate tip and should be handed directly to the wait person. It is most common to just leave the change up to the nearest Euro, and then can be left discreetly under a plate. Tipping is not practiced in bars or cafeterias.

Sweden

Tipping is usually done by rounding up the bill to the nearest kroner, approximately 5 to 10 percent.

Switzerland

Service is often included on the bill. Tipping is not expected, although it is common for a customer to round-up the bill to the nearest franc. Usually tips are below 10 percent.

United Kingdom

Restaurant: Service charges may apply, and may be printed on the menu or just included on the bill. If the tip is not included, 10 percent is adequate and 15 percent is generous.
Do not tip at a pub for drinks. It is unacceptable and will not be taken. If the barman gives you especially good service or fills several big orders for you, you can offer a small sum (the price of half a pint of beer, say), with the words, "and have one for yourself". The barman (or barmaid) may pour themselves a drink on the spot or may put the money aside to have a drink later. You're not expected to tip for food in pubs, but the development of gastropubs has made this less clear.


 [21-07-2011]
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