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Tipping or not tipping in Portugal?

Updated: 20 hours ago

What, how, and if you should to tip answers the most frequently asked questions you'll ask before traveling outside your country. There is a chance of getting as many answers as each person's experience. Leaving a tip, especially if it's normal in your home country, seems almost a universal gesture of appreciation. But there are countries where this raises some doubts, due to the fact that it can be considered an offensive gesture.

For this reason we decided to write this post to clarify these ideas, because despite being an undemanding country, tipping in Portugal is the only thing that makes most tourists scratch their heads in confusion. Mainly because it's hard to get a standard answer.

Tourism Lisbon | MoonShadow Tours

In Portugal, most tourists tend to tip taxi drivers - to make it easier for the driver if they are low on change - and waiters in restaurants (not so much in cafes or bars, although it can happen), regardless of whether they are in one of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Lisbon or in a family restaurant, typical of the villages of Alentejo or the interior of northern Portugal.

At companies that cater more to tourists than locals, it's not uncommon for employees to expect a tip. But let's be honest, you don't have to tip, and certainly no one will bother you if you choose not to tip. Tipping works as a gratuity for the service, if you feel that the service was much better than what you expected then yes, tipping is a nice way to say thank you for the service and attention provided.

I reiterate that tipping is not mandatory, and you should only do so if you are comfortable with it and want to reward truly exceptional service.

Of course, a tip is always welcome and appreciated no matter the area. It's harder to judge the excellent service of a taxi driver, especially if you don't know the city well enough to know if they're taking you for a ride.

To get an approximate idea of the average cost of a taxi ride in Portugal, use an online tool such as Taxi Fare Finder.

When you take a guided tour and your guide goes above and beyond to give you a memorable experience, it's not rude to tip at the end. But don't insist if they politely decline.

Tipping the tour guide

But how much should you give?

In restaurants, you can choose to leave 5 to 10% of the final bill as a tip or, to make it easier, round up the bill. So, for example, if the meal was €37, you could pay €40 and tell them to keep the change.

Some people who are uncomfortable with tipping actually find the “keep the change” approach less awkward than openly tipping. It's a matter of personal preference.

Most cafes (and other stores) have a tip jar next to the till, all year round, or at least during the holidays (Christmas and Easter). Any amount between €0.20 and €1 is appropriate, just make sure you don't use the 'small' coins (€0.01, €0.02 and €0.05) as this makes it look like you are simply get rid of unwanted change. Instead, use them to pay the bill. The cashier will thank you for it.

Considering that taxi drivers are paid employees or business people, and the taxi fare already includes so many taxes and fees, locals often choose to round the fare. Either because it's easier for the taxi driver to give change or because he doesn't want to be stuck with unnecessary change. In the end, paying €0.15 or €0.50 extra doesn't make much difference.

Tipping in Portugal

How do I tip when paying with a card?

Paying the bill at a restaurant with a debit or credit card is normal in Portugal, especially for larger amounts and if you don't like carrying a lot of money in your wallet. You can tip in cash by leaving a few coins (or a €5 bill if you're feeling more generous) on the table.

Some POS machines already allow you to include a tip amount in the payment, which makes everything much easier. Our machines at MoonShadow Tours allow you to add values between 15, 20 and 25% if the customer wants to leave a tip to the guide who accompanied his group.

I hope this post has been useful and that it has answered your questions. Tipping in Portugal is not a typical action for locals. This is one of the reasons why you will get different answers when you ask about appropriate behavior. But to avoid being misunderstood, keep these tips in mind here.

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