Tipping in Spain – When & Who To Tip in Spain

September 27, 2019

We all hate that awkward moment when we aren’t sure if we should tip or not at the end of a meal or taxi-ride. Especially when traveling to a new country that abides by different customs that we are not typically used to!

Fortunately, Spain has a very relaxed atmosphere and there is no pressure in needing to tip, but it won’t be refused.

Look, although hospitality employees are working full-time, Spain’s 2014 and recent economic crisis has crippled some of the nation, particularly the working-class and youth due to high unemployment rates. So, those workers who are at your disposal are lucky, and if they work hard, deserve to be rewarded! Tipping in Spain is certainly not perceived as negative.

Do You Tip in Spain?

Tipping here is not obligatory. The country has no tipping culture, unlike many other countries. However, if the individual who served you excels at his or her job, then we suggest you leave a reasonable tip!

Always keep small amounts of cash on you. You may not always have the ability to pay with card facilities, and if you can, you cannot add a tip to it.

Iva Spain: Restaurant Tipping

Be cautious fellow travelers! Certain Spanish restaurants insert a service fee/value-added tax into the bill as well, entitled Impuestos sobre el Valor Añadido (IVA).

Remember those words, and always check the amounts at the end of the receipt. This means you won’t have to tip. But take note that this rarely occurs, and if it does, it will be in the most touristy regions.

There is no compulsory expectation for you to tip a waiter, especially if the waiter is aloof, unhelpful or unfriendly – as well as if you’re eating in specifically budget restaurants. But considering how fantastic Spanish food is, you’ll likely feel a strong desire to tip!

If you’re eating at a more chic or exclusive restaurant, and you are pleased with the job of the waiter, a tip between 5% and 10% of the final price will be greatly appreciated. And it will go toward a good cause – helping to sustain a hard worker!

Another circumstance to take note of is that waiters are often paid minimum wage in Spain, an amount significantly lower than that of the U.K or U.S.A.

Therefore, extra tips are somewhat necessary based on the quality of the service and food, as well as however much you can afford to support hard-workers.

Suggestion: always ask for a menu in English to see if they add VAT – it’s usually mentioned at the bottom of the menu. If they don’t have an English version, look for the words “IVA no incluido” (not included), or “IVA incluido” (included). If they do not mention this on the menu or it is written unclearly but they still add the fee, you can consider the restaurant to be deceitful. Avoid these places by always checking the menus before you sit down.

Tipping in Bars

At the bar, if you don’t sit at a table and have one or two drinks, you won’t have to tip the bar-tender. It is never expected – but you may round off to the nearest euro if you particularly liked the drink or bartender.

Yet, if you sit down and have a server who fulfilled your needs in a timely and efficient manner, you can add a tip of your choice.

We recommend you look for tip-jars on the counters of the bars, and always leave a kind tip for them, so we cannot reiterate the importance of keeping loose coins and notes on you for instances like this enough.

When you’re enjoying a wine tasting tour, tipping is not expected, as it is understood that all costs are included in the tour price.

Do You Tip Taxi Drivers in Spain?

As mentioned before, nationally, there is no anticipation of the hospitality workforce for a tip. The same goes for tipping for taxis.

A kind gesture and unwritten rule is to always round off to the nearest whole number (euro) when making payment. For instance, should the ride cost you 9.5 euros, round it off to 10 euros. If you’re feeling very generous because the driver was friendly and helpful, you can add an extra 10% of the final receipt to it. The driver will duly appreciate it.

But, keep in mind that if you are using a taxi as an airport transfer to your hotel, the driver will inevitably charge you a luggage fee – so you can count this as your tip for help.

Tipping in Barcelona

Being Spain’s most visited and touristic city, these very tourists are often troubled by the question: do you tip in Barcelona? Well, although it is Spain’s second-largest city, it actually has the highest cost of living in Spain.

Therefore, you’ll find that rent and general expenses are more expensive in this city for locals – the servers at your disposal. Factor this into your decision about whether you want to tip or not, and the amount.

Although there is no culture of tipping, there is a culture within Spain that rewards hard work – therefore a further determinant of your tip is based on the merit of your server.

Tipping in Madrid

Being the city with the second-highest cost of living in Spain, Madrid is the country’s capital as well as its most populous and largest city. With this being said, among the three largest cities of Spain, Madrid has the highest rate of unemployment – housing here is said to be too expensive for those earning a salary in the hospitality sector. Hence, tip where you can and when you can afford to – up to 10% for good service is very generous.

The best restaurants to eat at with great service are all situated around the Madrid Square, or Plaza Mayor. But this is one of the busiest areas in the city, so restaurants here may be a bit more upscale and pricey.

Valencia Tip Payment

Finally, Valencia – one of Spain’s foodie gems and third-largest city. It lies on the coast and is the origin of some of the world’s favorite traditional dishes such as Paella. You’ll be eating out a lot here, so take note.

Here, you’ll find many family-owned restaurants that deserve to be supported, because they’ve been running for many years, and because the food is just so organically good!

If you branch out to the outer-regions such as La Albufera where rice-manufacturing is rampant and Paella was first created, we suggest you add a tip for quality service, but also for supporting the sourcing of local produce. The restaurants here pride themselves in their unique ingredients that can only be sourced from the surrounding rice-fields.

Final Reflections

With an unstable economy, the hospitality sector is facing many challenges – insufficient salaries, characterized by unemployment in the youth. So, those who do serve you have worked hard to get there. If this hard-work reflects in their attending to you, we always recommend you to tip.

But remember, it is by no means an imperative and is never expected. Don’t tip an individual that was lazy or unhelpful. Rather, if you feel that the food was of a high standard or if the service was engaging and efficient, give a tip based on what you can afford.

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