Tipping in Europe: An American’s Ultimate Guide

Tipping in Europe: An American’s Ultimate Guide

Tipping in the United States is often obligatory. Americans are accustomed to tipping their servers from formal dining settings to taxi rides. This is because Americans in the service industry largely rely on tips to earn an adequate income. 

Waiters and waitresses, for example, earn just over $29,000 a year; one of the lowest salaries of full-time jobs in America. Fortunately, this is not the case in Europe. 

As a result, tips are not expected in Europe as they are in the United States. American tourists often find this difficult to adjust to, so here is a comprehensive guide on tipping in Europe. 

What is tipping culture like in Europe?

Americans are typically accustomed to leaving at least a 15 to 20 percent tip, especially at a U.S. restaurant. For many, tipping lower than that is indicative of poor service, while not tipping at all can feel downright wrong for many. 

Tipping culture in Europe is very different, so there are some habits American travelers will want to leave at home. For most, tips are not expected in Europe, and it's fine not to tip at all, especially in more casual settings like bars or cafes. 

In other cases, though, small tips may be warranted. That said, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to tipping in Europe, as it all depends on which country the tipper is in, the setting, and the quality of service.

Tipping in France

France is known worldwide as one of, if not the, best country for dining. Travelers would be remiss not to sample some of France’s best restaurants, bistros, and cafes. As a result, ample opportunity exists to leave, or not leave, a tip.


In France, tips are not obligatory. Like most European countries, French service industry workers are paid a living wage and do not rely on tips to earn a fair income. 

One of the ways France supports its café, restaurant, and bar servers is by including a service fee equivalent to 15 percent of the bill. This is called service compris. Tourists can think of this as a tip, as it goes to the waiter. That said, diners may still leave a small tip to show appreciation.

The same goes for taxi drivers. Tipping is not expected, but passengers may wish to round up or leave an extra euro or two - especially if the driver helps with bags. 

Rounding up is one of the most common tipping customs in France and Europe. Visitors can simply round the bill up to the next euro when a larger tip may not be warranted.

Tipping etiquette

Tipping in France isn’t quite as easy as rounding up or just not tipping at all. While this is usually sufficient, there are scenarios in which bigger tips can and should be offered, including:

  • Fine dining settings with attentive service: Five to ten percent
  • Dining with a larger group: One or two euros per person
  • Taxi drivers who help with bags: One or two euros per bag
  • Bellhops at hotels: One or two euros per bag
  • Housekeeping: Two to four euros per night
  • Concierge service: Five to 20 euros depending on the service

In the vast majority of cases, tipping should be in cash. Unlike most American restaurants, European servers will conduct payment at the table. 

This means diners can either tell the server directly how much tip to add or hand them cash directly. Cash is generally the best way to ensure the server gets all of the tips.

Tipping in Italy

Italy is another European country known for serving some of the best food in the world. Travelers worldwide flock to Italy just to taste the pizza, pasta, and wine that Italy is renowned for. 

Tipping is much less common in Italy than in some European countries, such as France. In the majority of cases, tips are not necessary. However, there are some instances in which you can tip.


Small tips can be left at restaurants in cases of excellent service. A small tip usually means a couple of euros, or perhaps five to ten percent of the bill. While a tip of this size would indicate poor service in the United States, it's appreciated in Italy. That said, leaving no tip at all would be considered normal.

As with many European countries, an accepted tipping practice is simply leaving the change from the bill or rounding up to the next euro. While this may not seem significant, it is a gesture of appreciation for service.

Diners should also check their bills for servizio incluso. This additional fee may be on a bill to cover the service. Unlike in France, this extra fee is not the law in Italy. However, when it is included, an extra tip is not necessary.

Tipping etiquette

While tipping is not often expected in dining scenarios, there are some situations in which tipping is more often expected than not, including:

  • Housekeeping: One euro per night
  • Concierge: Five to ten euros depending on service
  • Porters: One euro per bag
  • Tour guides: Five to ten euros

Tour guides are one of the few professions in Italy that expect and rely on tips. Free tours are a common offering throughout Europe, and guides rely on tips for income. Even when it is a paid tour, tips are usually expected.

As with most countries in Europe, tips are best in cash. Restaurant bills will not have a line to add a tip, so cash handed directly to the server is the best practice.

Tipping in Greece

Greece differs from other European countries because servers are typically paid lower wages. Similar to the United States, tipping is not mandatory, but is often expected to support the server's living wage. 

This is especially due to Greece’s economic dependency on tourism. For many Greek islands, such as Santorini, restaurants are full during the peak tourist season. 

The rest of the year, tables are often left vacant. As a result, tipping can go a long way for servers who endure harder times in the off-season. 


Even though tipping is more expected in Greece than in many other European countries, it still differs from the United States. American tippers will not need to tip as big in Greece as they might back home. For example, tipping a server ten percent is plenty. Anything over 15 percent would be considered very generous.

In Greece, service fees are rare. In cases with a service fee, though, it is typically listed on the menu rather than the check. A full tip is not needed on top of the service fee, although some diners may still choose to round up to the next Euro.

Tipping etiquette

Since tipping etiquette in Greece can differ from other European countries, here is a quick guide:

  • Restaurant servers: Five to ten percent
  • Taxi drivers: Round to the next euro 
  • Bars and cafes: No tip is necessary
  • Housekeeping: One or two euros per night
  • Nail and hair salons: No tip is necessary
  • Tour guides: Five to ten euros

As with most countries in Europe, Greek tour guides rely on tips. It is also important to note that tourists should always tip in the currency of their host country. EU countries that do not use the euro include:

  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Hungary 
  • Poland
  • Romania 
  • Sweden

Tipping in Switzerland

Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and, therefore, one of the most expensive to visit. People worldwide head to Switzerland to experience luxury at its finest; from restaurants to hotels. Many may be surprised to learn that there is no national minimum wage in Switzerland.

With this in mind, it's fair to wonder if Swiss service industry workers make a living wage. Fortunately, all Swiss restaurants charge a service fee. This ensures that servers are fairly paid without a tip.


Since restaurants charge a service fee, tips are not expected. It is customary to round up in full-service restaurants, leaving as much as five extra euros when the service is excellent. 

However, larger tips are rarely expected. They can be appropriate, though, when dining in a larger group that requires more attention. As with any country, tips are not compulsory and should only be left when the service warrants it. Travelers should not be expected to tip when the service is unsatisfactory. 

Tipping etiquette

By and large, visitors do not have to worry about tipping in Switzerland. Again, restaurants charge a service fee, so rounding up or adding just an extra Euro is sufficient. There are some situations in which tipping is more expected, though:

  • Cafe servers: No tip necessary, although you can round the bill up if there is table service.
  • Bartenders: No tip is necessary, although you may if the service covers a prolonged period.
  • Taxi: No tip is necessary, although you can round the bill up, especially when bags are loaded and unloaded.
  • Porters: One to two euros per bag.
  • Housekeepers: One to two euros per night.

Similar to most European countries, tips in Switzerland are best in cash. Since tipping isn’t as customary as in the United States, receipts usually do not have a line to add a tip. 

Do Americans need a visa to enter Europe?

Currently, U.S. Citizens do not need a visa to enter Europe, and they can stay in Europe for up to 90 days in 180 days without needing authorisation. This will change in 2025 with the implementation of ETIAS

While Americans will continue to be able to travel throughout Europe visa-free, they will need to apply for ETIAS, an electronic visa-waiver program.

What is a Visa Waiver?

A visa waiver is an application process that allows certain travelers to enter a country without a visa. In the case of ETIAS, it allows travelers from 60 countries, including the United States, to enter the Schengen Area without a Schengen Visa. 

This saves these travelers from the longer, more labor-intensive process of acquiring a Schengen Visa. ETIAS is a quick process that digitally attaches to the traveler’s passport and remains valid for up to three years.

What is the purpose of ETIAS?

The United States has a similar system called ESTA, which was introduced following September 11th, 2001. ETIAS has a similar scope - to further secure EU borders and citizens. In 2016, ETIAS was proposed for the following reasons:

  1. Each year, around 200 million people cross EU borders, which continues to rise.
  2. As a result of several international crises, the number of refugees and people seeking asylum has risen sharply.
  3. Terrorist attacks have become disturbingly frequent, threatening the lives of citizens who call Europe home.
  4. Technological advancements have made electronic pre-travel authorization a realistic and practical way of maintaining border checks and security.

ETIAS will create a safer EU not just for its citizens but also for its visitors. 

What to do next

European customs can differ quite drastically from those of the United States. Tipping is one example. Thus, American travelers can often over-tip due to these differences. 

While tipping customs are not the same in every European country, the best rule of thumb is to leave five to ten percent when in doubt. In many cases, though, this can be too much.

American citizens should also understand that they will soon be required to apply for ETIAS before entering Europe. This will change the way many people travel, so travelers need to understand how ETIAS affects them.