Like the rest of Europe tipping in Spain is not a custom. It’s not expected, and Spaniards generally don’t do it. However, you may notice when you visit major cities such as Barcelona, Madrid and Seville, that tips are encouraged, and even advertised in restaurants and shops. These signs are primarily aimed at tourists, as most Spanish locals will leave a few coins for a mid-range meal and sometimes nothing, particularly for a budget meal.
A tipping culture does exist, but it is not a legal requirement. Most employees in the hospitality sector of Spain are well-paid and do not need tips to supplement their wages. You definitely won’t insult anyone for not leaving a tip, but you also won’t insult them for showing some gratitude and leaving one either.
Here’s our guide to tipping etiquette in Spain, how much you should give, and where you should tip:
Tipping in Spain Restaurants
You can usually tell when waiters and waitresses require a tip in Spain. If you are served by a number of waiters/waitresses then you are usually not expected to leave a tip, however if you are served by only one for the duration of your meal then you may want to leave a tip.
Tourists and some locals will tip when they have a fantastic meal or excellent service, and this will certainly be appreciated–anywhere between 5-10% of your bill is considered a normal tip. For a sit-down lunch or dinner that might come to around 20 euros, a one or two euro tip is more than enough, and is also considered standard. If you are eating alone then it is a nice gesture to tip your waiter/waitress a little bit more if you can, particularly if the place is busy.
Some restaurants in Spain may also give you a freebie at the end of your meal, if this happens it is also nice to leave a small tip as a sign of your appreciation. In these instances common sense prevails–if the waiter has made an extra effort with you, if you are a big group, or if you made a number of requests, you might want to tip a little bit more. If you are dining at a high-end restaurant and you have a great experience it is normal to tip 10% of the bill.
In some restaurants you may have already “tipped”, as some restaurants include a percentage, known as service charge, and include it in your bill. Please note that a cover charge, which may be written on your bill as “pan” or bread, is not a service charge, it is a charge per person that covers the cost of shared dishes.
If you do decide to tip, try to tip in cash. This is much more acceptable in Spain–if you try to add a tip to a credit card you will never know for certain that it made it into the pocket of your excellent server.
Tipping in Spain Hotels
If you are staying in a high-end hotel in Spain, you may experience a porter, but even then it’s not always the case. If someone does help you with your bag(s) you should tip them around one euro for their assistance. It’s the same with room service, if you like you can leave around one euro for the person delivering the room service and a few euros at the end of your stay for the maid.
Tipping Etiquette in Spain Bars and Pubs
Generally if you are seated at a bar and ordering drinks, tipping is not expected. However, if you are getting table service then it is polite to leave a few euros after you have received and paid your bill, particularly if you are ordering cocktails or other skilled beverages and snacks. It is not practical, nor is it expected for you to leave a tip in a late night bar. Usually the bar will be too busy for you to express your intentions about leaving a tip, and in Spain you mostly pay for your drinks up front, not at the end of the night.
Tipping in Spain Taxis
The general consensus in taxis is to round up the fare if you are happy with your experience, for example: if the fare comes to 8 or 9 euros you can give the driver 10. If you had a bad experience it is best to take the change. If you hire a private driver it is nice to tip he/she for their services at the end of your journey. If drivers give you recommendations or advice on where to go and what to see in Spain, then it’s always nice to tip them for their help. If you are staying in one of Spain’s larger cities like Barcelona, you might find you use the underground system, or metro, for most of your stay–on public transport tipping is neither necessary nor possible.
Tipping Etiquette for Spain Tour Guides
If you hire a tour guide, or take part in a free tour, it is nice to tip your guide, particularly if the guide is self-employed and not working on commission. Welcoming, helpful and friendly guides all deserve a tip, and if they show you somewhere that astounds you, then tipping is a nice way to say thank you. Besides, they have enhanced your experience. This usually only applies to private guides, for example you don’t need to tip a museum guide who has a full time salary at the museum. It is nice to recommend guides if you have had a great experience and give a nice review to the company they work for–they may get a pay rise for your compliments!
Tipping in Spanish Hair Salons
If you have time during your stay in Spain for a trim or blow dry, you can leave a one to two euro tip for the service (as long as you are happy with the cut of course). If the workers have exceeded your expectations and made you feel welcome, it is also very nice to tip them. While it is not as common in Spain, as it is in some parts of Europe, such as England and France, it is nice to tip the staff for making you feel good!
Enjoy a Spain vacation getaway with Auto Europe
Now that you have an idea of the tipping customs and etiquette in Spain, you can get out there and start exploring the myriad enchanting locales scattered throughout this amazing country! As a part of our ongoing series of European tipping customs, Auto Europe strives to provide all travelers with access to comprehensive travel tips, vacation planning resources, and of course, unbeatable prices on all car rentals in Spain.