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We hereby announce a cyclical topic here on RealPoland Blog – Travel Tips. Once a month, we will supply you with a little bit of trivia that will help you get around Poland and make your stay even more pleasant. We start today by taking our topic literally: it’s going to be about tips.
The phenomenon of tips is not unknown in Poland: the polish word is napiwek, literally meaning “[something intended] for beer” (compare French pourboire, “for drinking”). So far, however, it has not permeated our culture in such a way as to become mandatory, or – as in some countries – even included in a check from the start.
Still, it’s caught on, mostly in big city restaurants, where it’s generally good form to leave a tip if you have been satisfied with the service. Ten percent is the usual, anything above that means you have been very pleased with excellent service – so watch out, you may not want to be giving wrong signals!
Bars, pubs and bistros don’t expect you to tip, but they will usually have a tip jar somewhere on the counter, often with humorous signs that are meant to encourage tipping (which is standard pretty much everywhere, as far as we’ve seen). The service you receive is not dependent on whether you tip or not (unless you’re in a bad place run by jerks, that is), so any additions to tip jars are usually done at the end of your stay, when you can put some of your loose change in the jar if you’re feeling generous and have no more use of it. Wherever you are, you can also tell the staff to keep the change, which they will usually see as a nice gesture and something nice to remember.
If you’re having a private guide or a driver, they will see tips as an expression of appreciation for their service, so if you are satisfied with their work, by all means go ahead.
Generally, when it comes to tipping. we’re as laid-back and relaxed as we are in many other areas. Unless you are in a very posh place, no one will chase after you to give the money back if you do tip, and no one will spit in your food if you don’t.