Navigating Portugal: Avoid These Rookie Mistakes on Your First Trip
Visit a ganadaria and see wild bulls

How to tip in Portugal?

Ah, tipping! Some see it as cultural imperialism, while others say it is a must. As an almost 900 year old nation, Portugal has its own way of doing things - and here is a quick guide to getting it right on your next trip.


Tipping Basics:

In Portuguese the word "tip" comes from the Latin term "gurg" (or "gurges"), which means "throat," being a derivation of the term "gorja," which corresponds to a drink to moisten the throat or the amount of money to pay for that drink. In the 18th century, the word was spelled as "gurgeta."

The same word origin can be found in the French word for tip, "pourboire," which literally means "to drink," and in the German "Trinkgeld," literally "money for drinking." In Portuguese, a trace of this origin can be perceived in expressions like "moisten the throat," which refers to the reward for the service, or in "for a little coffee" and "for a little beer," pronounced as motivations for the tip.

Today in Portugal, tipping is not as pervasive as in some other countries, but it is appreciated for good service. The country has a relatively modest tipping culture, and gratuities are typically offered as a gesture of thanks rather than an obligation. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

1. Restaurants:

  • Service Charge: Unlike in many European countries, a service charge is not automatically included in the bill. Therefore, tipping in restaurants and cafés is up to you.
  • Standard Tip: If you receive good service, leaving a tip of around 5% to 10% of the total bill is considered generous. However, this is not obligatory, and it's entirely up to your discretion.
  • Round-Up: If you're paying with cash, rounding up the bill to the nearest euro is a common practice. For example, if your bill is €18, you might leave €20.
  • 15-20%: Until more than 1 million Americans a year started to visit Portugal, this was unheard of.

2. Bars and Cafés:

  • Small Change: In bars and pubs, especially for simple orders like drinks, rounding up to the nearest euro or leaving small change is appreciated. For instance, if your drink costs €1.50, leaving €2 is customary.

3. Taxis:

  • Round-Up: When taking a taxi, it's common to round up the fare to the nearest euro or add a small tip for good service. For short rides, rounding up suffices, while for longer trip or assistance with luggage, a tip of around 5% to 10% is reasonable. Be aware that many cabs charge extra for baggage.

4. Hotels:

  • Housekeeping: Leaving a small tip for housekeeping is good form in Portugal for a visitor. A tip of €1 per night is appropriate.
  • Porter Service: If a porter assists you with your luggage, a tip of €1 to €2 per bag is good.

5. Tour Guides and Drivers:

  • Gratitude for Good Service: For guided tours or transportation services, tipping is discretionary and based on the quality of service provided. If you're satisfied with the service, offering a tip of around 5% to 10% of the total cost is appreciated. But, if it is "free," then think more about €20-€30.

And, it is good form to tip the gas attendant who fills your tank at the station, 50 cents to a euro.

While understanding tipping norms is valuable, it's important to respect local customs and not feel obligated to tip excessively. In Portugal, gestures of gratitude are valued, and a genuine "obrigado" (thank you) goes a long way in expressing appreciation for excellent service. Please don't usesSpanish, and in the café don't order Italian coffee.

By navigating tipping culture with sensitivity and thoughtfulness, you'll create find experiences and forge connections with the people you meet along the way.

Bom viagem! 


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