“What about tipping in Spain?” customers have asked me since I began to live in and
build our tour business organizing Spain private tours & luxury travel many years ago.
So my team asked me to write something on the topic of Spain tipping before we all head out to a tapas & wine tasting dinner in Madrid. Yes amigos, R & D and quality control is important 🙂
First the Spanish waiters by law get a real wage and the Spanish public are not traditionally big tippers nor is most of Europe. Because of these wages many bars and cafes have less serving staff working than you might see in America. So expect slower service and note that nobody is “turning tables” as meals are a time to relax not eat and run. So gratuities in Spain are not expected and it is certainly not a legal requirement to tip.
BUT if you are like me from the USA where tipping is customary and want to reward good service by all means do so. Read on for examples for different service providers. Also if you certainly won’t be insulting anybody by leaving a tip in Spain.
The norm here (if you want to follow local tipping etiquette), is small change for bars, single euros for other transactions including taxis and everyday restaurants.
For hotel porters you might leave around a euro per large bag.
For more upscale dining anywhere between 5 and 10 percent again IF you are happy. Again folks working in the Spanish hospitaity sector are by law protected employees and are so unlike those in the USA are paid a real salary for the work they do.
For private guided tours IF you are happy perhaps leave the guide 20 to 30€ for her or his efforts for a half day of touring. Maybe add 10 to 15€ for a full day.
For drivers maybe 5 – 10€ for a short airport or train transfer and 15 – 25€ for longer transfers based on your experience.
Let’s be sure you understand not tipping in Spain is not being stingy, as here the service charge is built into the menu price. Maybe it is the tapas cuisine and drinks habit, but Spaniards go out more than anyone in Europe per capita.
Downside is this is why you will see less waiters on the floor of most restaurants as the owner has to pay them a fixed salary. So expect slower service and more so IF you speak no Spanish.
Of course waiters in Spain or Italy ect… will take the tips from unknowing Americans who do not know it is a different system but it is not what they waiters work for. So tourist trap bars are quite happy to take tips and….. might have a sign on jar in ENGLISH only not Spanish. So just know bars only expects tourists, American tourists in particular, to leave a tip.
Very savvy waiters sometimes listen for American accents and might actually give them better service:> which is not a bad thing really.
So IF you are really happy with a delicious well served meal in most restaurants in Spain, do a European tip do maybe 5% .
If you observe a local Spaniards, you JUST won’t see the Spanish tipping except in rare occasions mentioned above.
Hope you got some value from this post: Tipping in Spain… To Tip or Not to Tip?
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IF you want to Enjoy the BEST of Spain w/o tipping hassles and planning stress check out our popular Spain luxury travel & private Portugal tours.
Thanks for sharing: Tipping in Spain: What You Need to Know About Spanish Tipping Customs
P.S. Still want to read more about tipping in Spain from an expat American Spain resident married to a lovely Spanish gal?….
To recap unlike the USA, tipping is Spain is NOT a big deal here. This is because wait staff are on salary so no waiter or bar server depends on tipping in Spain.
So in general and especially outside of the nicer places, the Spanish custom a low to no tipping….
Maybe this is why service is not the fastest although it can be good to excellent if you know where to go and speak Spanish and you go the right days and times.
Now back to tipping in Spain, Europeans and that includes the Spanish locals I know after a decade in Spain + my Spanish wife’s big family normally leave little to no tip, zilch, nada, ninguna most of the time….That amigos is the tipping norm.
MAYBE locals might tip in Spain, if it was a expensive “wine & dine” business expense account dinner or very nice place for a family celebration and service was excellent (uncommon) or the owner sent out a free something… then the Spaniard might round up and leave a few euros from the change.
Enjoy Spain and if you have questions let us know 🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing this, Dan