HOW TO TIP IN POLAND
In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette which is ingrained in all trades, from wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades. In Europe tipping is not as habitual. The Poles, however, do tip on many occasions.
This guide attempts to cover most situations that you, as a tourist, will encounter. Hopefully using these `tips` will provide a smooth experience when interacting with locals in restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators, and taxis.
The currency of Poland is the zloty (abbreviated zl). U.S. dollars are not accepted. Euros are only accepted at select shops near the German border, but it is not recommended to use Euros there as the stores themselves will set exchange rates that will not work in your favor. We recommend you just have zlotys on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for zlotys upon arrival. Debit and credit cards are accepted in Poland, primarily in the larger cities, but note that at many businesses, you will incur a small fee for the privilege. Currency exchange desks can be found at airports, hotels, banks, and bureaux de change (called kantor). ATMs are widespread throughout the country, even in middle-sized cities and larger towns.Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?
A 23 percent sales tax (actually a VAT, value-added tax) is included in the price of almost anything you buy in Poland. Restaurant services incur a smaller VAT of 8%. Waiters at restaurants earn low wages (approximately 12 zl per hour, or $4), so tips are appreciated. In urban areas such as Warsaw and Krakow, which are used to serving tourists, tipping at restaurants is almost expected. Tip approximately 10% for good service and 15% for phenomenal service. Make a note to tip in cash because you may not get a chance to tip on your credit or debit card, and when you get such a chance, the tip may not go to your server at all. If you want change back, do not say `thank you` (in English or in Polish, dziekuje), because the server will assume no change is needed. If you want change, say `prosze` (please) instead.
It is not expected to tip baristas or bartenders, but the leftover change from your drink will be appreciated. Keep in mind that saying `thank you` or `dziekuje` means the same thing whether you`re in a bar, café or restaurant. Use `please` or `prosze` if you want your change back.Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?
The practice of tipping is not very common in Polish hotels. Unlike in other countries, like Germany, you won`t see many porters or bellboys at hotels in Poland. When they are available and carrying your bags, a tip is not expected, but they will most likely appreciate a small token of 5 zl per bag. Tip a concierge up to 20 zl, particularly if he or she has been very helpful during your stay (arranging tickets for a show, for example). Chambermaids will be thankful for a tip of 10 zl per day, which can be left on a bedside table or a desk. Room service will not require a tip.Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?
Tipping taxi drivers is a very unusual practice in Poland, and drivers even in major cities will not expect a cash gratuity unless they have gone above and beyond (helping you move luggage or packages up a flight of stairs, for example). In that case, tip your driver in cash 10% of the fare, and also tip that amount if he or she has taken you to your destination in a particularly prompt manner.Tour Guides: Is a tip required?
Like with many professions, it is only expected to tip tour guides or bus drivers if you particularly liked their service. A tip of 10 to 15 percent of the tour cost can go to the tour guide; it will go a long way, as will 10 zl to the driver. Tipping your tour guide Marlboro cigarettes, brandy or cognac is not as commonplace as it was in the 1990s, but feel free to give a gift if the tour was exemplary.Miscellaneous: Is there anyone else I should tip?
Other Services: Manicurists, hairdressers and spa workers will expect tips. Tip 10% to all three.Final Thoughts:
While Poles tip more than other Europeans, many professions that would expect tips in North America would not expect them here. Follow our hotel and restaurant rules and you will gain insight into tipping when it is most expected. Do not feel bad for not tipping if you did not enjoy a service rendered.