tipping in Istanbul

When visiting the exotic Turkish city of Istanbul, with all its interesting customs and traditions, you may wonder what the tipping culture is. The truth is that the tipping etiquette in Turkey is to leave a small tip only when you feel it is deserved. For most services it’s a case of rounding up a few Liras to a convenient amount or adding five to ten per cent of the bill. There is no expected amount that you should feel obliged to leave, but of course, as a tourist you will be more expected to tip, and it’s a nice way to show your appreciation.

Istanbul is a place where East meets West on the cusp of the two continents of Europe and Asia. You’ll see modern skyscrapers next to ancient mosques and businessmen wearing suits and ties, as well as traditional kaftans. Taking a ferry down the Bosporus River at sunset and marvelling at the beautiful skyline is an unmissable experience; as well as enjoying a traditional hamam or Turkish bath. You should head to the bazaar district to pick up delightful trinkets and souvenirs and soak up the bustling atmosphere. Afterwards, sample some delicious Turkish cuisine including delicately spiced rice and succulent kebabs.

tipping in hotels in Istanbul

in Istanbul don't tip at a hotels

At cheaper hotels or hostels there is no need to tip but if you are staying somewhere a bit more classy which has a porter and a daily maid service then you will want to leave a little something. For a porter you can leave two or three Lira per bag and for the cleaning service the same amount per day. Of course, only feel like you should tip if the service was satisfactory at the very least. Some hotels include breakfast and in this case you may see a tip jar where you can leave a few Liras for the waiting staff.

tipping customs for restaurants in Istanbul

At a restaurant Tip 5-10% in Istanbul

When eating out you will notice most locals as well as foreigners leaving a tip. This could be anything from a few Liras up to ten per cent and it really depends on how much you think the service you received deserves. The average amount is around five per cent but for excellent service leave a little bit more. At luxury establishments with silver service a tip of up to fifteen per cent is usually appropriate. At fast food places and street stalls no tips are expected and people may be surprised, but undoubtedly pleased, to receive any gratuity. Even in expensive restaurants, tips can rarely be paid with by credit card so make sure you have enough cash to cover it.

tip etiquette at spas in Istanbul

in Istanbul Tip 10-20% at a Spa

Visiting a hamam or Turkish bath is one of the few occasions in Istanbul where gratuities are definitely expected. At the end of your lavish treatment your many attendants will line up to wave you goodbye but they are really just waiting for their tips. Work out between ten and twenty per cent of the price of the experience and divide this up between the staff that served you.

should you tip your taxi driver

In Istanbul don't tip your taxi driver

You’ll probably find yourself taking a few taxi rides while visiting Istanbul as it’s the easiest way to get around, especially after dark. As to whether you choose to tip is entirely up to you as taxi drivers do not expect tips. However, if you had a friendly, efficient, or keen-to-please driver then you may want to leave a gratuity. Locals will round up a few Liras if they tip at all. Tourists may want to leave up to five per cent for a good service.

should you tip your hairdresser

in Istanbul Tip 10 - 20% at a hairdresser

This is one of the few industries in Istanbul where tipping is expected. Most people will tip between ten and twenty per cent of the actual bill and this should be distributed between whoever washed, cut, and blow-dried your hair as usually it is more than one person.

should you tip tour guides in Istanbul

In Istanbul tip 10-20% to your tour guide

Knowing how much to tip your guide is always a tricky dilemma as you want to show your appreciation but don’t want to come across as either stingy or flamboyant. The good thing about tipping in Istanbul is that the custom in Turkey is to tip as a whole group. Usually a percentage of between 10 and 20 per cent, depending on the quality of the tour, is fair to give. Speak to your group, collect how much everyone wants to contribute, and present it together to your guide.