One of the best examples of the quality of Portuguese people is when it comes to tipping. In Paris I have come across a taxi driver who swore at me when I had enough cash only for the fare with no tip, and waiters looking down their noses even before they have served me as if I owe them something. In London I have had taxi drivers demanding a tip when I didn’t offer it. In Portugal, there have been many times when I have not offered a tip and never once have I seen a frown or heard a scornful comment.
In many Portuguese cafes, the locals pay the exact price for their coffee or their coffee and pastry. For them, tipping is reserved for fancy restaurants, and even then some people don’t even think about adding a tip to their bill. So, the fact is, you don’t have to tip in Portugal but I always do when I can.
Wages are extremely low in Portugal and in cafes the wages are even more extremely low. After all, most people will be in and out without paying more than a Euro, and there are cafes on almost every corner, so each visit is not generating a lot of revenue. Some cafes employ a large amount of waiters, which improves service.
When I go to a cafe or take a taxi, I almost always pay with cash, and I usually just round up the taxi fare, or chuck in a few extra coins in a cafe. In restaurants, I will add an amount to the bill – around 10%, depending on the size of the bill, or I pay with a card and then leave some money in cash for the waiter. This could be between €2 or €5 – again, depending on the level of service required for the meal.
I’m talking about the real Portugal here, not the holiday resorts in the Algarve, where there is perhaps a greater expectation of tips due to the fact that most customers are tourists.
Here’s what other experts say about tipping in Portugal
Tipping Around The World says tipping in Portugal is “more common then most places in Europe”. It advises these specifics.
- Taxis: round up to the nearest 5 Euro on your total fare.
- Hotels: Give the bell boy 1-2 Euro per bag. Give house-keeping a few Euro at the end of the stay.
- Restaurants: add a 10% tip to the bill in the more tourist areas, but check the bill because service may be included.
- Bars: Usually a Euro or two if the bar service was good, otherwise this isn’t required.
Lisbon Guide says you should tip between 5% and 10% in restaurants, with the higher amount only for places where you have had a lot of service. It also suggests that tips to cab drivers are not expected in Portugal. This is generally true, but an additional Euro on your fare will be a good reward for polite, efficient service.
Who To Tip says “it’s unlikely that any tip you offer will be refused and people in the service industry may expect a tip from you if they realise you are a tourist”. It also offers these nuggets of advice:
- Tip a tour guide €5 per day.
- Don’t tip taxi drivers.
- Don’t tip staff in a spa.
- Tip nothing or up to €2 per bag carried or per night for house-keeping.
- Don’t tip in a restaurant (but who doesn’t do that?)
- Don’t tip your hairdresser (I always do).
Travelsupermarket says the same as most other sites, but it does suggest tipping for drinks. “Leave your change or a euro or two for good service in a bar, but a tip is certainly not expected in this scenario.”
And finally, if you are still unclear about how much to tip in Portugal, visit Quora for some advice from the locals.