Traveling in a foreign country—especially when you’re not fluent in the local language—is much easier when you understand some basic local rules and customs. Unlike in the U.S., tipping in Spain is not compulsory, but there’s a big difference between ‘not compulsory’ and ‘not recommended.’
Sometimes simply leaving the coins you received as change can serve as a gratuity, and sometimes you should leave more. Just note that whatever you give, it's always a good idea to tip in cash rather than adding gratuities to a credit card slip (since that may not ultimately make it back to the person who gave the good service).
Here's your easy-reference propina (tip) primer for Spain, so you know just how much to leave and where, be it at the restaurant, hotel, taxi, or bar.
Tipping at the Hotel
Leaving a tip is customary when a bellhop or porter helps with your luggage. The going rate is one or two euros per bag, up to a maximum of five euros for multiple suitcases.
Leave one euro for each night of your stay; for exemplary service, leave more. (The people who clean your room are often the least well-paid members of a hotel staff, so if you can afford it, be a little more generous here.)
If the hotel concierge helps you out by booking restaurant reservations, lining up tour guides, or recommending local activities, a gracias and a gratuity between five to ten euros is expected.
Room service waiters
While tipping for room service in Spain is not required, giving one or two euros to the person who delivers your meal will always be appreciated.
Tipping at Restaurants and Bars
Waiters in Spain are paid a better base salary than servers in the U.S. (who rely on tips for most of their income), so tipping your server there, while appreciated, isn’t mandatory. It’s tough for Americans to get used to not leaving a tip, but locals generally don’t leave anything extra at all in more casual eateries.
In fine-dining restaurants, a tip may already be included in the check. Scan the bill to see if the phrase “Servicio incluido” or “I.V.A. (Impuesto al Valor Agregado)” is printed on the tab. If you see any of those phrases, it means the tip is included in the total. If you don’t see those, a 10–15% tip is appropriate for good service. (As in the U.S., cash is preferable and ensures that the tip money gets to the server, as tips on credit card receipts sometimes don’t make it back into their pockets.)
Tipping your Spanish bartender for that glass of sherry or cerveza is not necessary, but adopt the local custom for thanking the bartender: Leave a few coins on the bar or round up to the nearest euro when paying the check, especially if you’ve ordered food.
Other Tipping Situations
Taxi or car service driver
Rounding up the fare to the next euro is all the tip you need when you’re paying off a cab. Unless, that is, the driver goes out of his or her way in service, like carrying your heavy suitcase into the hotel or airport terminal. In those cases, add a few euros to the fare.
As in the U.S., if you’re using a Spanish rideshare service (like Cabify and Blablacar), tipping is not required. But if you receive especially good service, you can leave a tip in the app afterwards.
In Spain, tour guides rely on tips to make their living. What you tip will depend on the quality of the service, the length of the tour, and also how big the group is. For private tours where you and your partner or family are the only clients, you should tip 10–15 euros for a half-day tour and 15–25 euros for a full-day. For public tours that require a free (not free museum tours, but those for which there is a charge), your tip would depend on the size of the group. If you are part of a small group, thanking the guide with a tip of two or three euros is a good practice. For larger group tours, one euro will suffice.
Spa therapist, barber, or hairdresser
For spa treatments and similar kinds of personal services, leaving a tip of one or two euros is customary.