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Tipping in Portugal: How much should I give?

By: James | Last updated: October 2019* | 21 Comments

Tipping in Portugal isn’t as straight-forward as it is in other countries like the United States. Here, in Portugal, there are no rules about how much you should give as a tip in a restaurant and it can often be very confusing.

Speak to five different Portuguese people and they’ll all give you a different answer. Ask how much you should give a taxi driver, hairdresser, or tour guide, and you’ll get even more varied responses.

To put together this guide, we spoke with both Portuguese people, expats living in Portugal, and those working in the service industries in Portugal. Although we received a lot of different opinions, we were able to get a rough idea of what the best tipping etiquette is for each situation.

Rule #1: A tip is always appreciated

It’s worth pointing out that, although Portugal doesn’t have a tipping culture like the United States (and to a lesser degree, the United Kingdom) a tip is always appreciated.

Portugal has some of the lowest wages in the European Union, and tips can make a big difference to people’s quality of life. People won’t necessarily run down the street to thank you for a tip, or give you dirty looks if you don’t tip, but they definitely will appreciate it. That does for just about every industry in Portugal.

If you’re not sure whether to tip or not, it’s better just to tip.

Also: always tip with cash. While some card machines allow you to leave a gratuity, that doesn’t necessarily mean the waiter will get it.

Tipping in Restaurants

Because Portugal doesn’t have a tipping culture, there are no fixed rules about tipping in Portugal. Generally, people take one of three different approaches:

  • Some people don’t tip at all.
  • Others tip a percentage of the bill (usually somewhere between 5-10%)
  • Others round up: if the bill comes to €37 or €38, someone might leave €40. If it comes to €32 or €33, they would leave €35.

Tipping, particularly tipping a percentage of the bill, is more common in restaurants that are frequented by tourists and expats and less common in those that only have Portuguese clientele. It’s polite and generous just to tip regardless and, because eating out is so affordable in Portugal, it usually only adds a few Euros to the bill.

Note: check the bill before leaving a tip. Some touristy restaurants will add a 10% service charge to the bill. If this is the case, you don’t need to leave a tip.

Tipping in high-end or Michelin star restaurants

Tipping is common in upmarket and Michelin-star restaurants. Here it’s usually 5-10% of the bill.

Tipping in cafés

A coffee (bica) usually costs less than a Euro. Even with a cake it’s only going to come to a few Euros. If people leave something in a café it’s usually a case of rounding it up to the nearest Euro.

Tipping in Bars

Tipping in bars is not common in Portugal. As with cafés, if a tip is given it’s usually done by rounding up to the nearest Euro or five Euro increment, depending on the size of the bill. If you’re drinking in a cocktail bar or somewhere where the waiter is doing a lot more work than simply pouring a glass of wine, tipping is likely to be more commonplace.

Tipping Taxi Drivers

Tipping taxi – or these days, Uber and Taxify – drivers is not common in Portugal. It’s a nice thing to do, though. Most people round up the bill or leave an extra Euro or two.

If you’ve had help with your bags, it’s definitely courteous to leave a tip (usually a Euro or two per bag).

Tipping Maids

Housekeeping staff are usually at the lowest end of the wage pile, particularly if they’re not from Portugal. Leave €1 or €2 per night stayed.

Tipping Other Hotel Staff

Concierges and reception don’t tend to receive tips, although they’ll obviously appreciate a tip if you give it. If you have your bags carried, it’s courteous to tip €1-2 per bag carried (usually up to around €5). It’s polite to give €1-2 as a tip if you order room service as well.

Tipping hairdressers

There’s no fixed rule, but if you leave a tip it’s usually a case of either rounding it up or following the 5-10% rule. If it’s for a special occasion (for example a wedding) or if you’ve had special service, a tip is more common.

Tipping tour guides

You aren’t obligated to tip your tour guide or driver. However, because they work in the tourism sector tipping is more common than it is in other sectors. There are no fixed rules on this but people tend to tip between €5-10 for a half day and €10-20 for a full day.

Note: this is a tip on top of whatever you have paid for the guide or the driver. There are also “free” walking tours, where the tour guides make their money exclusively from tips. You should absolutely tip these guys as this is their only source of income. There is no fixed amount, but most people usually tip €5 or €10.

What if the service was bad?

A tip is really for quality service. If the service was bad, you absolutely don’t have to tip.

It’s important to note that good service in Portugal isn’t anywhere near as upbeat or friendly as it is in other countries like the US, so don’t compare the service you get in Portugal to what you’re used to back home. Don’t expect people to fawn over you, or to be incredibly attentive either: that would actually be exceptional by Portuguese (and basically European) standards.

You’ll know bad service when you experience it, though, and, in these situations, there’s absolutely no obligation to leave a tip.

How do you tip in Portugal? Have you run into any other situations where you’re not sure how much to tip? Let us (and other readers) know in the comments below. 

 

Updates: Some updates are as small as a spelling correction. If you spot a mistake or want to suggest a contribution, leave a comment below.

I lived in Portugal as a child and, after many years in Ireland, the UK, and other parts of the world, I moved back as an adult. Over the past decade or so, I've been lucky to live in several parts of Portugal, including Lisbon and the Algarve, and to travel to just about every corner of it.

While in Portugal, I've always found it a struggle to get accurate, up-to-date and insightful information about Portugal. I decided to create a hub for expats and travellers that was not only informative and accurate but that helped others really get to know Portuguese life and culture. So, I started Portugalist and (amazingly) it quickly grew to be the #1 resource about Portugal.

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21 thoughts on “Tipping in Portugal: How much should I give?”

Welcome to the comments section of this article. Here you'll find comments from other Portugalist readers. You can also leave a comment or ask a question.
  1. Thanks for the useful article on tipping. Am staying in Albufeira and in desparate need of a decent haircut. Hotel receptionist helpfully pointed me in the direction of two barbershops. Will put your advice to good use.

    • Yes, people who tip food delivery drivers would still tip regardless of whether they paid for it online or not. Also, I don’t imagine the delivery driver sees any of the transporation fee so I wouldn’t consider this to be the tip.

      It’s definitely a bit weird giving someone a Euro or two (I think single American dollar bills are more suitable for tipping) but, if you want to tip, this is how you’d do it.

  2. Thank you for this timely info. My teenaged son and I are in Luz right now. Your site was helpful real time when we had a nice dinner tonight and tomorrow when I visit a manicurist.
    And yes, the service is not nearly as ‘chirpy’ (had to look that one up!! 😀 ) as in the US (Boston) where we live but knowing this in advance i knew it was pretty good service and w a smile.
    We are enjoying our stay immensely.
    Kind regards
    Lisa

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  5. This is a special circumstance I know, but my husband has been hospitalized in Portugal for the past 25 days due to many medical problems. I was wondering if we should do anything special for the staff that has been so attentive when we leave?

    • Hi Trudi,

      It wouldn’t be the norm, and I have no idea if the staff will have any rules about accepting gifts, but I think that tips, gifts, or even just a thank you card are always going to be appreciated.

    • As far as I know it’s not the norm, but I’m not sure why might tip a paid tour guide and not a diving instructor. Sometimes there is a tips box for boat crew, and it’s always nice to put something in there.

      Tips are always appreciated, though, so, if you want to give a tip, it’ll definitely be appreciated.

  6. I live in Germany, where the service is usually more efficient, but not always as warm as in Portugal. I often feel that the service in restaurants in Portugal is an ad hoc arrangement that includes time for Benefica or the national team. But when they finally get to the table they are cheerful, helpful and skilled. As you mentioned, the friendliness is never the aggressive attention you get in the USA, so often simply a play for a bigger tip.