Do you Tip in Spain? What is the Tipping Culture?
Created by Colleen Sims * 28 March 2023 * Updated 15 August 2023
Spain is an amazing destination that attracts tourists from all over the world. It’s a country with a fabulously rich, diverse and colourful culture but what about tipping? Should you leave a tip in Spain?
A Guide to Tipping in Spain: Learn to Tip like a Local
I’ll be honest, when it comes to tipping things can become a bit confusing. I’ve been unsure myself about when and how much to tip and I know with my pilgrim groups along the Camino de Santiago it’s a question that is often asked. So I’ve dived deeper and explored the tipping etiquette for cafes, restaurants, taxi drivers, hotels and tour guides.
What is the Word for Tipping in Spanish?
How do you say tip in Spanish? If you’d like to test your language skills when in Spain then the correct word to use is una propina.
You may also come across the expression el bote, which is the equivalent of a tip jar. Where una propina is the tip that is given to a particular waiter or server, el bote refers to a group tip jar. This is more common practice in smaller bars and restaurants where all tips are add and shared between the staff.
I should mention that propina only means tip in this context, it can’t be used for other ‘tips’… eg tip of the tongue, tips and tricks.
Tipping at Cafes and Bars in Spain
Tipping in cafes and bars is not mandatory nor is it expected but what is commonplace is for a few cents to be left on the bar or to round up the bill to the nearest euro as a gesture of appreciation for the service.
So for example, if I order a café con leche (which I LOVE!) or a glass of wine (which I equally love) and the total is 1.80€, I would leave 2€. Nothing more is expected; watch the locals and you’ll see those coins left on the bar.
Tipping at Restaurants in Spain
Tipping in restaurants is more common than in Spanish cafes and bars and the tip is usually a few euros or between 5% or 10% of the total bill; and the tip is dependent on the quality of service you receive.
In restaurants, tipping is not mandatory. Spanish people will often choose to leave one or two euros regardless of the final price or they opt to round up the bill. If your menu del dia comes to €16, you might leave €17.
There is one caveat, do check the bill first. If service has already been included you will see “el servicio” and it usually amounts to 10% of the total bill. If this is the case then additional tips are not expected.
Tipping at Fine Dining Restaurants in Spain
Fine-dining restaurants in Spain generally have a more formal and elaborate service, which is why tipping is more commonplace and expected.
It is usual for a service charge of around 15% to be included in the bill, but if the service is exceptional, you might choose to give a little extra to your waiting staff. If you are unsure you can always ask the staff if service is included.
Tipping Taxi Drivers in Spain
Tipping taxi drivers in Spain is not mandatory. However, if the service is excellent or the driver was friendly or helpful, rounding up the fare, or giving the driver one or two euros will always be appreciated.
If the driver offers additional help such as carrying your luggage you could add a euro or two for his kindness.
Tipping at Hotels in Spain
Tipping at hotels in Spain is not mandatory but of course it is always appreciated. If you would like to reward good service you can give 1 or 2 euro to the porter, bellboy, or concierge.
You are not expected to tip for room cleaning services. However, for housekeeping you can choose to leave a few euros at the end of your stay. We’d recommend you leave cash on a dresser or table and not on the bed and if there is a note pad, maybe leave a little thank you so they realise it’s for them.
Tipping for Room Service in Spain
Tipping for room service in Spain is optional, and tips vary depending on the type of service provided. It’s not uncommon to give a small tip between 1€ and 2€ for those who bring meals to your room.
Tipping a Tour Guide in Spain
Tipping tours guides is a little more complicated. It is more and more common to find Free Walking Tours in cities. These may be offered by the local tourist board or municipal council. The Tour Guides are professional and they receive a salary but they may also be enthusiastic local volunteers. There are other tours where the tour guide pay to advertise their services and they depend on the tips as their income. So if you are on a free walking tour please tip your tour guide appropriately if they’ve done a great job!
It is generally customary to tip tour guides in Spain, The amount to tip typically depends on the length of the tour and the quality of the guide’s knowledge. In Spain, it would be typical to tip €5 per person for a 2-hour tour; if the tour is part of a service offered by the local authorities and the guide is a paid employee. For a full-day tour, a €10-€15 tip maybe more usual, although of course you can give more if you feel that the guide has been exceptional.
If you are taking a free walking tour and the guide is self employed then I would suggest you tip around 20€ per person for a 2 or 3 hour tour and more if you are on a full day tour. As a rule I would pay what I would usually expect to pay for a ‘fee paying’ tour; you can always check the going rate on site like Viatour.
Also if the tour group is large I may choose to pay at the lower end of the range and if there are just a few people or (as in some cases) it’s only myself and Gerry, then we pay more.
Use your judgement on tours but certainly I pay more if the guide is not employed by a company as their only source of income is your tip.
The Last Word : Do You Tip in Spain?
Tipping in Spain is still seen as a way of saying thank you and shows your appreciation of the services you receive. Rounding up the bill or leaving a few coins on the table is common in Spain, and it will always be appreciated. Tipping in Spain is never compulsory, it may be seen as good manners to leave a few coins.
In tourist areas tipping is more common and maybe expected more often; if you’re unsure try and see what locals are doing and follow suit.
I have read many times online that there is a mixed reaction to tipping in Spain. It has been said that Spanish employees are paid a living wage and do not ‘need‘ tips to make up their salary; although I would say the exception to this rule are the self-employed tour guides. There is certainly no mandatory requirement to add 10-20% to every bill. There is even an argument that the more staff rely on tips the more it could encourage the degradation of their standard of pay. Regardless I always feel a small tip is a good thing.
I like to take the middle ground and round up the bill or leave a few coins and just say thank you as we leave; a simple act of kindness goes a long way and I’m sure it’s always appreciated and welcome.
Finally, two things
- Look at the bill to see if service is already included. In smaller establishments this is less likely.
- Pay your tip in cash. Even if you pay the bill by card leave the tip in cash. This ensures that the tip goes to the person it’s intended for.