Tips on tipping in Greece

I have written about restaurant tipping before but it was buried under another post, so I decided to make it a separate, more complete post with all the information concerning tipping in Greece (in restaurants, taxis, and anywhere else I may think of). I have also adjusted the indicative amounts a bit higher, to compensate for my cheapskate nature:) If you believe I have left something out let me know and I shall respond within the day.

Tipping in restaurants in Greece
1. Most often you just leave the tip on the table, unless your bill is brought in a leather or paper pocket, in which case you may leave the tip inside the pocket. In some countries (e.g. Germany) leaving money on the table is considered rude but in Greece this is standard practice except for a select few, very high-end establishments, which will again just provide a leather pocket for your convenience. On the contrary, trying to put the money into the waiter's hand will probably be considered rude and patronizing (unless you are leaving a huge tip and you don't want others to see...)
2.Waiters' salary is typically (but not always) included in the restaurant's bill, by law, so people don't normally tip big like in the U.S. For the same reason, there are no set rules on what one is expected to tip. Follow the guidelines below and don't sweat it much.
3. For smaller bills (in cafeterias) you usually just round up (leaving at least something like 30 cents). E.g. If your bill is Euros 6.70 you leave 7.00; if it is 5.50 you leave 30 to 50 cents (for a total of 5.80 to 6.00 Euros). 
4. If the total is more than 10 Euros you may leave something close to 2%-10% of the bill. i..e. for a total bill of 50 Euros something ranging from 1 to 5 euros, so essentially you round up to the higher integer and add a  few Euros on top. These are approximations and will/should depend on the level of service you receive.
5. In all cases, the waiter should bring you back the exact change from whatever you gave and you will leave the money on the table yourselves, afterwards. If you pay by credit card you may not be asked to write the tip on the credit card paper so you should again leave what you want on the table.
6. The bad news: Americans are known for being large tippers (since they carry the habit from back home) and may often be expected to tip more than Greeks. I don't know what tip is "expected" of people from other western countries but I bet it is somewhere between Greeks' and Americans' tips.
7. The good news: Since Americans (and perhaps most Western visitors) are expected to tip bigger than Greeks or Eastern Europeans, they usually receive better service and the occasional fleeting smile :) In this blog, I try to present restaurants that have a good level of service or -at least- a very good level of food to compensate for potentially average service.

Tipping in taxis in Greece
Overall, tipping is not expected by taxi-drivers but it is not denied either (Quite often, taxi-drivers are not the owners of the vehicle themselves so they may just be employees but you have no way of checking that out). My father-in-law is one of the few persons I know who occasionally "tips" taxi-drivers, that is, he just rounds up the amount to the higher integer.
Make sure you don't "tip" the taxi-driver unwillingly! During the day (05:00am-11:59pm) and within town limits you should be charged by Tariff 1 (lower tariff). A small "1" should appear in the running meter next to the running amount of the charge. There are some extra, mandatory charges, which are not considered tipping: charge for heavy baggage (>10kgs/piece), for calls/appointments and when departing from airports, ports, bus stations, rail stations or towards airports.

Tipping bus-tour companions or guides
Again, this should depend on each company's own rules. It's been a long time since I've been in a bus-tour inside Greece but from what I remember people always, voluntarily, collected a certain sum, gathering change from participants, and gave it to the tour guide or companion at the end of the day if they were happy with the services received.

Tipping in theaters
In the rare occasion you are going to watch a theatrical play: In most old-style theatres, ushers usually expect a couple of Euros as tip. A most distasteful habit I think, but the theater managers are the ones to blame for this. In most new / modern theaters such tipping is not expected or accepted as ushers are normally paid by management. What constitutes an old-style theatre? Hmmm... Perhaps one with oddly numbered seats, where you need ushers, who in return expect a tip?
Tipping in plays of the Greek Festival (i.e. Epidaurus Theatre and Herodes Atticus Theatre) is not permitted.

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  1. Thanks for this guide, it's annoying when there aren't any hard and fast rules on tipping in places. I mean at least you know where you are on tipping in America for instance!

  2. Hi - so there is an artist who is a good friend of mine that lives in Greece. I live in America and am paying them though online services. They are charging me 15 euros for the piece. I'm not sure how much I should tip them: I've asked around and have gotten responses ranging from 3 euros to 10 euros. Other people warned me it might be rude to tip and that I should instead advertise them. Thoughts?

    1. I'm not sure about that (and sorry for the late response BTW) and I'm not sure exactly about what kind of art could be sold for 15Euros. Anyway, I think advertising them could certainly go a long way in helping. You do not need to say you're tipping them, if you don't want to risk sounding rude. You can just say you're rounding up the number (whatever that is) without making a big fuss about it. It should be appreciated.

  3. At last, some practical advice about tipping in Greece from someone who lives there. I've seen sites (probably American) which suggest a 15-20% tip in Greek restaurants!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I sure wouldn't mind getting a 20% tip :)


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