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As an American who has lived in Spain for 15 years, I understand how tipping culture can be confusing for my compatriots when they come here. In Spain, tipping is not as common as it is in the US, but it is very much appreciated when provided. Who doesn’t want free money? Rest assured, here are some tips (pun intended) to help you navigate the murky waters Spanish tipping etiquette. Read on in this comprehensive guide to standard tipping in Spain!
Everything you need to know about tipping in Spain
Tipping in cash or credit card
You can tip in both cash or credit card – neither is better than the other. Tipping in cash is the most common situation. However, when you are paying by credit card, you can tell your waiter or service provider to round up to the nearest euro. For example, they can charge you €13 instead of €12.61.
Tipping culture in Spain vs. tipping culture in the US
The expectation to tip in the United States is very high. Whenever I go back to the US to visit, tipping feels compulsory even though it isn’t. Restaurants – even where you pick up your own food and maybe even put in your own order – do the math for me and tell me how much of a gratuity I should leave. WTH?!
The expectation to tip in Spain is very low and non-existent. Many Spaniards don’t tip at all, and they are not shamed into tipping. It is not compulsory or expected. When it comes to tipping big, the maximum is 15% for an exceptional quality of the service. If you wish to leave a tip in Spain, the gesture is more about how much you enjoyed or appreciated the service, and not out of social obligation.
Tipping in restaurants and cafés in Spain
The most common situation to leave a tip is at restaurants, cafes, or tapas bars. Tipping sometimes depends on the size of the group.
If you’re in a big group of about 5 people, it’s generally acceptable to leave a few coins on the table – nothing too extravagant, just enough to show you appreciate the service. But if you’re feeling particularly generous, you could always round up the bill to the nearest euro.
Restaurants and tapas bars, do not have an option to add a tip to the credit card payment. You will never see a blank tip line on your restaurant bill in Spain. If you want to leave a gratuity, simply ask your waiter or service provider to charge you €24 instead of €22.17. The restaurant will easily adjust the amount for you.
If you want to be certain that your tip goes to your waiter for his table service, and not the restaurant, leave your cash tip on the table, or hand it to him directly. Waiters and restaurant workers do not depend on tips to make a living in Spain.
If you’re at a fancy restaurant like Arzak with a big group of 10 people, things get a bit trickier. As a general rule of thumb, aim to leave around 10% of the total bill. Some restaurants in Spain may include a “service charge” or “cover charge” on their bills, but it is not common.
Read about eating customs in Spain here!
Tipping taxi drivers or other drivers in Spain
You don’t have to tip taxi drivers in Spain, especially if it’s a short distance. It is common culture in Spain to round up the fare to the nearest euro or simply leave a small tip of a few coins. If your cab driver helped load your luggage, was very friendly, or went the extra mile with service, feel free to leave a tip and round to the nearest euro. If you are taking a private car service, tipping is not expected, but it is appreciated.
Tipping in hotels in Spain
In hotels, tipping is not expected at all. Unless it’s a very high-end hotel, you can tip hotel services such as the porter, housekeeping, room service, or other hotel staff. You can leave €1-€2 for them. You can leave 5-10% at the concierge at the end of your stay if they assisted you with your trip, but it is not expected.
Tipping tour guides in Spain
If you take a guided tour in Spain, it is not customary to tip the tour guide. But depending on the depth, quality, and length of the tour, you can leave a tip of €1-€10.
For example, you’re not expected to tip if you’re in a large group of 20 people, and you’re getting a 2-hour guided tour of the Sagrada Familia. On the other hand, a tip would be more welcome if you’re on a small-group tour of 5 people, it’s 8 hours long, and your tour guide is answering all your questions. Again, you can leave a tip of €1-€10, and go with your gut.
Tipping other services in Spain
For other Spanish service industry workers, such as those who provide beauty treatments, massages, or pet grooming, it is not common in Spain to leave a tip. But I’m sure they’ll welcome any tip you choose. You can tip the person around 5-10% of the total cost of the service, or round up the bill.
Is it rude not to tip in Spain?
No, it is not rude to tip in Spain. If you do not tip your barber, hotel staff, or taxi driver, no one will bat an eye, and you will not be shamed. Some Spaniards will leave a few coins from €.20 to €2 tip if they received good service from the wait staff, especially at a bar or restaurant. Or, they will round up to the nearest euro. But, if you just pay for your meal, and that is it, it is not rude.
Is tipping expected in Barcelona?
Tipping is the same in Barcelona as it is in all over the country. The general rule is that tipping is not expected in Spain. It is optional, and any service worker will almost certainly welcome any tip. As with tipping in Madrid, Valencia, and all other Spanish cities, round up to the nearest euro, or leave a few coins.
In conclusion, tipping in Spain is optional. If you’re at a restaurant and want to leave a tip, you can decide at the end of a meal. And leave the tip you choose to leave. If you’re feeling generous, by all means, leave tips for every service worker you meet. YOU decide how much to tip in Spain – or not – without feeling guilty or stingy. In short, tip in Spain if the service is good. Tipping is not required!
If you want travel tips before you come to Spain, read my guide to planning your trip!
Did you find this guide helpful? Let me know in the comments! I read all of them!