HOW TO TIP IN GREECE
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, and in Greece it is not always expected. This can leave some travelers confused. In Greece, tipping is a kind gesture and appropriate in some situations.
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 Greece is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for Euros upon arrival. In our culture we can put everything on credit and debit cards, however, in Europe you will find it useful to always keep a little cash on hand. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?
First thing is first: Tipping varies throughout different parts of Greece. In Greece there are likely two charges that you will notice on your bill, and it is important to note that they are not a gratuity. The first is the standard 13% VAT Tax charged on all food and drink (which is changing to 18% in late 2015/ early 2016). Most restaurants will include two prices for each item, the first is the actual cost, and the second is the price with the VAT included (the price you will be paying). The second is the kouver, or `cover charge,` which is quite literally a charge to cover the table with a cloth and for the bread and non-bottled water. This charge is not removed even if you decide not to eat the bread, and it is usually 1 Euro per person. Some restaurants also charge a service fee, which will be indicated on the menu. The price quoted on the bill is final and inclusive of the VAT, cover charge, and service fee if applicable. Check over the bill for obvious errors and bring any substantial errors to the attention of your waiter. If you notice a minor discrepancy use common sense to decide if it`s worth trying to sort it out.
Now, as far as the actual tip, in general expectations are much lower than most tourists are used to. Major cities have the most experience with tourist traffic and the western tipping practice; in Athens, Santorini, Mykonos and Crete servers have become accustomed to western tipping practices. In smaller areas, it is less likely that a server will be expecting a tip. Keep in mind that most servers are salaried, but tips are always appreciated. The most common practice is to round the bill up by a few Euros. Be sure to tell the server to `krata ta resta,` or keep the change. Alternately, give the tip directly to your server, as it is customary to leave some small change at the table for bus boys and if you leave the tip on the table, your server may not receive it! In Greece it`s assumed that tourists will tip but some restaurants will still round-up the bill, so be careful. Don`t leave any extra money if they have.
For exceptional service, 10% is more than admirable (or even expected) as a thank you for wonderful service.
In cafes and bars tipping is also at the customers discretion, although it will likely win you favor with the person taking your order. One or two Euro per round of drinks, or one Euro for a coffee order will generally expedite service. Just be sure to tip while placing your order to get their attention!
The practice of tipping is also fairly uncommon in Greek hotels. In most hotels a service charge is included in the bill for staff, however, Porters and Chambermaids regularly receive tips due to their relatively low salaries.
If a Porter helps to carry your bag(s) to your room the customary tip is 1 or 2 Euros per bag, usually no more than 5 Euros total. For Chambermaids in moderate hotels a 1 Euro tip, daily, is adequate; while in deluxe hotels 2-3 Euros daily is more suitable. Leave these tips on the bed or the bedside table. Hotel Concierge staff can be very helpful for first time travelers; they are a wealth of information from directions to restaurant suggestions and reservations. Tip them 1 or 2 Euros accordingly for their helpful service, if so desired. Some hotels (and upscale restaurants) will have Restroom Attendants, tip them with small change and bless them, since without them, there would be no toilet paper or soap there.
Let`s be flat out: Taxi drivers serving tourists expect tips. Most drivers will charge a minor fee for handling luggage; this is not a tip, but an official charge. Generally tourists are expected to cover toll road fees, so ask if your route will include any tolls. For the tip itself, round up the fare, or leave between 5% and 10%. If you`ve hired a private driver leave around 20 Euros per day. If they went above and beyond you can always tip more. Always remember when travelling abroad that it is good practice to agree on a final fare before the cab driver begins driving.Tour Guides: Is a tip required?
In Greece it is standard etiquette to tip on tours. For group tours, you can tip between 2 and 5 Euros per person, per day. For private tours, tip 20 Euros per person, per day. For ferry charters, a 5-15% tip for the captain is customary.Miscellaneous: Useful Information for a Smooth Experience.
The Greek Attitude: Some people view Greeks as rude, when in fact the Greeks are generally polite. The attitude they adopt is that of letting tourists approach them instead of the other way around. Do not be afraid to ask for help, whether it is reading a map or a menu. Don't be taken aback if your server seems indifferent, be polite and you will be served, even without a smile on the face. Always thank your server, and the owner if available, if you have a good experience.
Restaurant Policy: Some restaurant owners do not allow staff to keep the tips; check with your server if you want to leave a tip, otherwise you are only paying extra for your meal. Keep cash on hand for tips, if you pay by credit card and tip using the card it is highly unlikely that your server will benefit from your generosity. You may also find that many restaurants do not accept credit cards or require a minimum to use them.
Smoking: Smoking also deserves a mention. Greeks are the heaviest smokers in Europe, and although smoking is legally prohibited in restaurants and bars, in practice the law is almost universally disregarded.
Other Services: In the event that you are in Greece for a special occasion (wedding, honeymoon, graduation gift, birthday, etc..) and employ the services of a hairdresser, make-up artist, party planner, personal shopper, tailor or spa services and the like, use your best judgment in tipping. Factor in the cost and quality of service and, as a general rule, stay in the 10% range.Final Thoughts:
Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. Unlike in the U.S., waiters are paid a living wage, and the expectations for tipping are lower in Greece than in America. This is also true for hotel staff, though if you encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.
When paying for services in cash (which we generally recommend for services other than your hotel) remember to take your receipt. This is important for two reasons; If you leave a tip on a credit card, the person providing the service may not always get it, and if there is a discrepancy it is important to have your receipt to settle it with the manager of the establishment and to prove that you paid for the service.
As a last resort, the Greek Tourist Police are available throughout major cities or by dialing 171. Though most travelers to Greece will never need them, the Greek Tourist Police can be guardian angels. They admittedly spend most their time providing directions, but if by chance you have had a horrible experience and feel ripped off, do not hesitate to contact them. They exist to handle complaints and assist tourists . Whether it is a cab fare dispute, a dinner check that just didn`t add up or if you are confused by charges on your hotel bill, they`re here to help. The Tourist Police officers receive special training in dealing with visitors and they speak several languages.