Unlike North American tipping etiquette, the rules for tipping in Europe are different–varying even from country to country. Because European service workers are typically paid more than they are in North America, tipping in Europe tends to be less generous than in North America.
Leaving a tip in Europe, usually a small amount of change, is seen as a gesture of appreciation for a job well done rather than an expected or obligatory portion of your service bill.
Whom and Where to Tip in Europe
What to tip depends largely on the European country you’re visiting. For example, in most Scandinavian countries, tipping is not necessary at all. Service workers in Denmark and Sweden are paid well and don’t expect tips from patrons. However, leaving a small tip for excellent service is common.
In other parts of Europe, such as Ireland and the United Kingdom, restaurant, bar and hotel tipping is not always expected. If you do wish to leave a tip, it is generally a small, token amount. The same goes for tipping in central and southern European countries such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
Restaurant, taxi and hotel tipping in Eastern European countries is not always expected but is greatly appreciated. Many nations in this part of Europe are less wealthy than their Western European counterparts, and their service workers earn much lower wages than those in other parts of Europe.
Restaurant Tipping Guide
Some restaurants in Europe may add a gratuity charge to your bill, especially if your party is large. Be sure to examine your check before paying or adding on an additional tip. If you’re unsure whether to leave a tip in Europe at a restaurant or bar, it’s OK to ask your bartender or server what is customary.
As a general restaurant tipping guide, it’s acceptable to leave any coins you have leftover from your change on the table or to round up to the next dollar on your credit card slip.
If you plan to purchase a European travel book, make sure you pick up one that contains a good hotel and restaurant tipping guide for the countries you plan to visit.