The staycations and trip cancellations from the past two years are giving way to a big travel year, and European countries are top of mind for many. Much has changed within the travel space since the COVID-19 pandemic, and among the questions tourists have now is: How much should I tip?
This uncertainty is nothing new, actually. Most travelers are aware that tipping practices differ between the U.S. and Europe. Rick Steves, author, TV host, and expert on European travel, recently told Travel + Leisure, “People overthink tipping in Europe.” Steves’ website also begins with similar advice: “Don’t stress over tipping.”
Still, some guidelines can be helpful. Customs change, and there’s even some thought that pandemic-related restaurant and hotel shutdowns have created a need for larger gratuities. On that topic, Steves said, “There’s really no rationale for bigger tipping because of COVID, in my experience.”
We also contacted several Europe-based travel professionals for their insight. According to Simone Amorico, co-owner and CEO of Access Italy, “At restaurants in Italy, an average of 10% to 15% is appreciated. When it comes to drivers and tour guides, it all depends on the experience. Average is 10%, but many leave more, especially post-pandemic.” He added, “At hotels, guests may tip the concierge or guest relations, depending on the services requested, as well as housekeeping, but the figure varies.”
Richard Nahem, longtime Paris resident and owner of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, said, “The tip is usually included in the bill, and it’s sometimes called the service charge. It’s perfectly acceptable not to leave a tip, but it’s customary to leave 3% to 5% as a courtesy. Most restaurants and cafes are not equipped to add a tip to your credit card bill, so it’s best to have some coins with you. Hand the cash tip to the server, rather than leaving it on the table.” Nahem added, “It’s also customary to tip the concierge at hotels, and for taxis, a euro or two is fine.”
Travelers to Europe often take group tours and want to reward an especially entertaining or accommodating guide. For a two-hour walking tour, for example, a tip of two to five euros per person is appropriate, according to Rick Steves. For a smaller group, the tip should be more, and for a private guide, 10 to 20 euros for the group is fine in most cases, unless extra service is provided. At bars in Europe, tips are not customary, but leaving change or a few euros is always appreciated, if not expected. For takeaway food or drinks, counter dining, or stand-up service, tips are also not customary.
Clearly, even the advice from experts varies when it comes to tipping customs, and in many cases, it comes down to personal judgment. However, all would agree that no matter how many euros a traveler leaves, it’s most important to treat servers and hospitality workers with courtesy.
Here are a few guidelines on tipping in Europe.
The service charge (servizio) is usually included and noted on the check. If there’s no service charge, a 10% to 15% tip is fine. A cover charge (coperto) may be indicated, but that is generally not for the waitstaff. At hotels, tip around two euros per bag, and for housekeeping, one euro per night is appropriate. For taxis, no tip is necessary, but leaving the change for the driver is customary. Tips for tour guides vary, but consider 10% an average.
In restaurants, a service charge is often included, but if not, 5% to 10% is normal. At hotels, tip one to two euros per bag for porters, and the same per day for housekeeping. Taxi drivers expect about 10%, and about the same for tour guides, but you may wish to add more if your guide provides special service.
Service is generally included on restaurant checks, but if not, 10% to 15% is considered generous. No tip is necessary for taxis, but rounding up or leaving the change is fine. One euro per bag is customary for porters at hotels, and one euro per day for housekeeping is appreciated, but not required. Tour guide tips vary, depending on the type of tour. Start at 10%, but offer more for a private tour.
As in most other countries, add 10% to 15% if a service charge is not indicated on the restaurant check. For taxis, leave the change or round up if paying cash. In hotels, leave about two euros per night for housekeeping, and tip porters approximately one euro per bag. Tour guide gratuities should be about 10% as a starting point.
A service charge is typically included in the check, but it’s customary to add about 10%, depending on the service. For taxis, rounding up to a few Swiss francs is fine. At hotels, a few francs for porters, doormen, and housekeeping is normal for services provided. Gratuities for tour guides will vary depending on the type of tour, with 10% as a general base.
Iceland and Scandinavian Countries
Tipping in these countries is different from most of the other European destinations in that gratuities are not expected. Most restaurants include service in the bill; at most, round up or leave change if paying in cash. Hotel employees don’t expect tips for services, but you may still provide a small amount for extra help. Taxi drivers don’t expect tips, either, nor do tour guides. However, for a guide that offers something special, or for a private or full-day tour, you may want to give 10% or so.