Berlin Tipping Etiquette: When (and when not) to tip

For a long time, Berlin was notorious for outrageously bad service. You often had to practically tackle a waiter to get the bill, and bartenders could be surly just out of principle. Luckily, customer service has improved in recent years.

However, since service is included in the bill, you still don’t have to fork over the usual 15-20% like you would in The States.

But that doesn’t mean you never have to tip. Tipping is still customary in Berlin, just done in a slightly different way than you might be used to back home.

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Advice on tipping in Berlin

Make sure you come across as a “profi” (pro) not a clueless “touri” (tourist) by learning some tips about tipping customs in Berlin before you hit the streets. Here’s our guide to Berlin tipping etiquette.

When not to tip (much)

Although most people won’t turn away an offer of free cash, you certainly don’t have to go around tipping everyone where ever you go. As a rule of thumb, you should still tip the same people you would in the US, although the amounts and the way you do so vary.


If you pop into a café for a quick cappuccino or a cold one, you don’t necessarily have to tip. That said, it’s bad form to make your waiter dig into their change purse for five or ten cents. Our tip? Round it up, baby!

When the waiter comes, tell them you’d like to pay whatever the even amount is, for example, €2.50 for a €2.30 latte macchiato. You can also just hand them the amount you’d like to pay and say “stimmt’s so.” Cafes with to-go counters have recently started using American-style tip jars, so feel free to toss in a little of that extra change that’s weighing down your pockets if you feel like it. A lot of Germans haven’t caught on yet, so you’ll likely be showered with gratitude.

Berlin Bartender

That guy pouring your beer? No tip required. Photo: Scott


Lucky for barflies, bartenders aren’t expecting generous tips to keep those drinks coming. Similar to cafes, you can just round up the bill if you feel like it, but no worries that you’ll suddenly become invisible to the bartender if you don’t.


Coat checks in clubs usually cost a couple of euros, and no tip is expected. If you try to tip them, the über-cool coat check might still pocket the cash, but they will probably also scoff at you for being such a yokel.

As a general rule of thumb, the less something costs, the less likely you need to leave (much of) a tip. And don’t worry — if you tip your waitress a measly 20 cents, she won’t secretly spit in your coffee. But if you tip her a euro on a €2 coffee, she’ll think you’re trying too hard or maybe coming on to her!

When to tip


Unless the waiter ignored you forever and then brought you a cold schnitzel and a warm beer forty-five minutes after you ordered (and yes, this still can happen if you run into some old-school Berlin service), you should always tip 5 to 10% at a restaurant, depending on how happy you were with the service.

But make sure you don’t make the clueless “Ami” (slang for American) mistake by leaving the tip on the table. When the waitress comes, do some quick math and tell them on the spot how much you’d like to pay in total, which means the bill with the tip added on top. Most cheaper restaurants in Berlin don’t accept credit cards, but if you are dining at a place that does, you’ll also need to tell them the total you’d like to pay before they swipe the card because the tip can’t be added in later.

And to make sure you have a few euros leftover to tip, check out these simple tips for saving on dining in Berlin.


Taxi drivers are notoriously underpaid, so make sure you toss them a euro or two anytime you take a ride.

Budget Hotels

In most budget hotels, it’s likely you’ll be lugging about bags up to your room all by yourself. But if you do run across a helpful porter, be sure to tip him or her a euro per heavy bag. Impressed by the cleanliness of the room? Then leave some “Trinkgeld” (a tip) on the nightstand to show the maid your appreciation. In this case, a euro should do.

Tour guide

Did your tour guide provide a fun and insightful experience?
Don’t forget to tip! Photo: Andrew

Tour guides

Tour guides in Berlin know their stuff, and they’re always up to answering lots of questions posed by curious tourists. Make sure and show your appreciation by tipping generously, especially if you’re taking a free, donations-only tour.


If you get a chic haircut in Berlin, make sure and stay classy by tipping your hairdresser around 10%. In most hair salons, hairdressers have their own “Sparschwein” (piggy bank) on the counter by the cash register, so ask their name and feed the piggy in appreciation.

Related: The ultimate guide to shopping in Berlin on a budget

Klo Damen: Tipping in bathrooms

In many public restrooms, you tip the “Klo Damen” (bathroom ladies, although sometimes they are also men) 50 cents. Although this is a more a mandatory service charge, you won’t be turned away if you sneak off without putting the change on their tray. But don’t be that person. The bathroom ladies (and men) have a dirty job, and they deserve their tips!

Still not sure?

If you’re still nervous about when and when not to tip, or you’ve experienced some of that old-school Berlin service but don’t want to stiff the server entirely, a good rule of thumb is to stick with rounding up the bill and adding a little on top if the total was higher or you were treated right.

But note in Berlin it’s more normal to undertip that over tip, so make sure you don’t go over the 5-10% tipping range. And one more rule: never just leave the tip on the table!

The post Berlin Tipping Etiquette: When (and when not) to tip appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

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