Zapiecek, a restaurant with traditional Polish dishes, in Warsaw.

Tipping in Poland: Customs and Etiquette Guide for 2024

Tipping in Poland is straightforward. Do it when the service is very good or very difficult, or if you feel compelled to do it every time, no more than 10% is good.

Always tip tour guides, you should tip delivery drivers for bad weather especially, and in general, tip where you want. Poland is a more inexpensive European destination, so even adding a 10% tip will oftentimes have you under a meal price in other countries (but it depends on where you eat!). Etiquette-wise, remember to be polite, and this will go a long way.

Tipping is different everywhere you go. In some places, such as Denmark, tipping is not required, while in other places, such as the US, tipping culture runs rampant, and tipping is almost always obligatory for any service. It is important to understand what the cultural expectations around tipping are so that you contribute positively as a tourist, and not accidentally insult the country hosting you. 

In the case of tipping in Poland, it runs a middle ground compared to places like Denmark and the US but tends to be closer to Denmark. Compared to other countries in Europe, such as Germany, Austria, or the UK, tipping is not culturally viewed as required. However, there are many cases where tipping is appreciated in Poland. This article will have every piece of information you might want to know about tipping in Poland. There is information about when to tip, how much to tip, and when not to tip.  

Also, at the bottom of this article, you will find a bonus section about etiquette when traveling to Poland! Whether you have conversations with native Poles, or just interact with them as you go about your day exploring Poland, there are things you can do to leave a positive impression, especially as tourism continues to grow in Poland. From what topics are taboo, to what things you should and should not do, I have tapped into my personal experiences from living in Poland for 18 months. Read on to find out more! 

General information about tipping in Poland

If you are looking for a quick answer to the question about tipping in Poland, this is where you will find it! If you are looking for a longer answer, continue reading the sections following this one! 

Tipping, in general, is not expected in Poland. Polish people do not usually tip at restaurants, hotels, taxis, delivery, or any service that you might tip for in a place like the US. However, more recently, tipping culture has reached Poland to some extent. However, it follows what most of Europe does: 10% for good service, anything higher for the best service you have ever gotten. But, if you feel your service was mediocre or outright bad, tipping is not needed (but generally service in Poland is pretty good).  

While in general, restaurants do not ask for tips, there may be more of an expectation of you as a foreign tourist to tip, especially if they consider you to be from a place where tipping is common (such as the US). The same advice as above still applies, tipping is still not mandatory, but can be a nice gesture, and if you feel you are saving money spent on food due to low costs, a small tip should not break the bank. Service workers do make the minimum wage at minimum, and oftentimes more, so it is not like the US where not giving a tip will affect a service worker negatively.  

With this general description of tipping in Poland complete, read on if you want to learn more specific details about tipping in Poland! 

How much to tip in Poland?

There are two answers to this question. As said before, a generally good estimate of a tip is around 10% of the total bill. Even for a small bill at a restaurant or other, do not expect to need to tip higher. Alternatively, you can round your bill to a solid number. For example, if your bill was 55 PLN, you can easily round it to 60, or if your bill was 66 PLN, you could round it to 70.  

For services other than a restaurant, if you would like to tip, the answer depends. Since people in services such as hotels, delivery, or taxis do not necessarily expect a tip, you can tip whatever amount you feel. You can choose to round up the bill, leave a few coins, or add a larger tip if you feel the service provided was extra good. I will provide more information related to this in the “Where to tip” section.  

How to tip in Poland?

Once you have decided on the amount you would like to tip, you will find out that the actual act of tipping in Poland is a bit different. It is no different than tipping in other European countries, but if you come from the US like me, it is vastly different. In Poland, when you choose to pay by card, your payment card will not be taken away to be charged at a register elsewhere, with the bill being brought back to sign and add a tip. Rather, there are portable card machines that will be brought to you, where you can tap or insert your card using a chip reader. 

In this case, what you will need to do is let the server know that you want to add a tip. The server can input any number into the card machine, and they will do so willingly if you offer a tip. Alternatively, if you forget to do so or have some spare coins or small bills, you can leave some change with the receipt, or on the table. The servers will recognize that this is a tip as well. 

For other services, such as hotels, leaving cash tips is the only way to leave a tip. You can also give cash tips to delivery drivers and taxi drivers. But you can also tip for services provided through an app, such as Uber, Glovo, or Bolt, as long as you do so within 15 minutes of completion of the service.

Where should I tip in Poland?

Room of Sofitel hotel in Warsaw
Poland Insiders photographer Andrzej is relaxing and editing photos inside his room at Sofitel hotel in Warsaw

The following section will have specific places in Poland where you might want to tip. Read on to find out more. 

  • Restaurants: Want to try some of the many delicious Polish dishes? Tipping in restaurants should not scare you away. In general, it is not expected and is reserved for above-average to exceptional service. In this case, a tip of 10%, or rounding the bill, will suffice. Tipping is usually only done in sit-down restaurants, there is no tipping at fast food restaurants. There will be tip jars in many coffee shops and bakeries, but it is also not necessary (and even then, you will only see such things in the big cities). Tipping in bars is also almost non-existent, but you can if you want.  
  • Hotel: You can tip at a Polish hotel if you would like, but it is extremely uncommon. It would be most common at internationally recognized hotel chains. Tips would have to be left in cash in your room for the cleaning service. Leaving a small Polish bill, such as a 10 or 20 PLN bill, would be sufficient. Alternatively, send out any feedback forms you get from the hotel! This is an amazing way to show support for the staff of the hotel and help with future raises in pay. 
  • Taxi: Again, you can tip a taxi driver if you would like, it is not uncommon. You can tip in cash, or via whichever app you order. A 10% tip is a good tip for a taxi driver, and less is also okay. I like to tip taxi drivers because they are nice in Poland, and many are immigrants who are working long hours to support their families while navigating the pointlessly tricky Polish immigration bureaucracy. Also, if you are in a hurry or running late for a train (like I once was), a big tip of 20-30 PLN will get you where you need to be on time if a miracle is not needed. 
  • Food Delivery: If you are staying in Poland longer and every order and food using an app such as Uber Eats, Bolt, Wolt, or another, a tip is not necessary, but appreciated. The same tipping rate for taxis is proper. I would especially consider a tip if the weather was bad during the delivery time, or if the delivery is coming from a farther distance. Delivery drivers have some of the hardest low-skilled jobs in the country, and their wages do not support this hard work, so a tip is especially nice.  
  • Tour Guide: Are you taking a free tour in Poland? There are many great ones offered throughout Poland. The typical procedure is that while the tour is free, you are usually expected to tip. Technically speaking, you do not have to, and I have seen people not do so, but it is extremely rude. Leaving between 20-30 PLN in cash is okay, and if you are impressed with the tour guide, you can pay up to 50 PLN if you would like (a reminder that a paid guided tour might cost double that). You will have to leave a tip with cash only, unfortunately.  

What if someone asks me for a tip in Poland?

While most places in Poland would never ask you to give a tip, I have encountered recently a few places to have. My girlfriend, who is Polish, tells me that this is extremely unusual. She also believes that the only reason we were asked is because I was speaking English, and that they would never ask a Polish person. My girlfriend considered it quite rude to ask. Generally, this is true. Most Poles would never ask for a tip upfront. They might hope for one or expect one, but they would never directly say it.  

In my opinion, if someone asks, you do not have to give it. You may be judged, but if you feel the service was not worthy of a tip, especially as you are in a country where tips are not freely given, you do not have to. You will be judged in Poland no matter what (not harmfully, more on that later), and you will likely never go to that restaurant again anyway. Overall, the most likely restaurants to do this are super touristy ones, but it could also just be the individuals themselves.

When is a tip required in Poland?

There are only two places in my opinion where a tip is required in Poland. The first is a normal administrative thing. Typically, when you are visiting a restaurant with a group of 6-8 or larger, there will be a 10-20% fee added to the bill. However, this is common practice across the globe, and should not be a surprise to you. The only other exception is to tip your tour guide on the free tour! Tip them! Every free tour I have taken has been amazing! 

Other important etiquette in Poland

The above sections go into extensive detail about tipping in Poland. How about other etiquette? Polish people have a certain way of doing things specific to their culture but also related to Slavic tradition. This next section is dedicated to explaining things you should or should not do in Poland, including taboo topics, general courtesy on the streets, and more.  

Learn a few Polish phrases: As with any country, knowing a few words in the native language goes a long way. Polish is a difficult language for most foreigners, and native Poles understand this. However, if you learn how to say “Dzień dobry” and then say it as you enter shops, restaurants, and other places, Poles will appreciate the effort, no matter how small. It is also polite to greet people as you enter places or to greet people you see in your place of residence. For more useful phrases to learn, visit here.  

Give up your seat on public transport: This is a must! There are always designated seats for the elderly, those with babies in strollers, pregnant persons, and disabled persons. You should keep these seats and spaces clear if someone enters who needs them! Additionally, if you are on a bus, tram, or metro where all the seats are full, give up your seat! Do you see a little old lady struggling with her groceries? Give up your seat! Do you see a man, young or old, with a walking cane or wheelchair? Give up your space or seat! Do you see a mom with 3 young children? Give up your seat!  

Sometimes, the person will not let you give up your seat, but the gesture is always appreciated, and extremely polite. It is always better to offer than not offer. Not offering is a huge taboo, and you will be judged as a rude foreigner. So, avoid this. Give up your seat! 

Expect people to be in your way: This is a fact of life in Poland. People will walk in long lines blocking the widest sidewalks imaginable. They will block the exits to buses and trams, so you must push your way out. They will also stop to look at their phones right in front of a door. This is just how Poles operate. You must get used to it. As a foreigner, I recommend just moving out of the way, but if you are a prof, you can keep walking and force the native to move (but this is only a recommended move for people with advanced skills and experience in Poland).  

Stay to the right on escalators: While it is technically not the most efficient use of escalators, Poles stay to the right to allow people to use the left side to walk up. Note that this rule does not apply to the usually wide Polish stairs, which are a free-for-all for people moving up and down in every direction.  

Don’t be late: Poland is a place where time matters. They may walk slowly everywhere, but they will usually be on time. So, make sure to be on time! It is okay to be 10-15 minutes late in some situations, such as if you are being invited to a party, but it is always better to be on time! 

Don’t jaywalk: Jaywalking is not done in Poland, no matter if there are no cars and the signal is red for a long time. Of course, people do it. But, if you do it, especially in front of children, you might be glared at, or in a worst-case scenario, lectured for doing so. So, don’t do it. Be patient! 

Don’t be excessively loud in public places: Poles are very quiet people in public life. Of course, they like to party and drink at night and on the weekends. However, excessive loudness, especially in residential areas, or public spaces, is considered rude. With a large group, it is unavoidable, or if you are in a large space with lots of people. But, in restaurants, it is very rude. In museums, it is very rude. Being extremely publicly drunk is also frowned upon, especially in places like Kraków, which has taken to banning the sale of alcohol after certain times. Be respectful! 

A gift for a host is appreciated: If you are invited into a Polish person’s home, a gift for the host is very much appreciated! It does not have to be something large; in fact, this could be considered embarrassing. Rather, something small, like some flowers, a box of chocolates, or a good bottle of wine or vodka, will do well, and be much appreciated.  

Respect the host country: This is quite simple. Do not insult Poland. Poles are very proud of their country! However, they may criticize their country, especially related to politics. However, this is not an invitation for you to criticize what you have seen or heard! Poles will ask you for your opinion if they want your opinion. Otherwise, as an outsider, they will not appreciate your opinion about their beloved country. So, be respectful. Poland is a great country with great people! 

Do not bring up certain topics in the first conversation: There are quite a few topics to not bring up in conversations with Poles, especially if you have just met them. These topics are considered taboo in some regards and should be saved for later conversations. 

  • Politics: Anything related to political policies of the current or past government 
  • Religion: Many Poles are passionate Catholics. Talking about religion is not a topic for the first conversation, however 
  • Eastern vs. Central Europe: There is debate about whether Poland is in eastern or central Europe. Poles do not want to hear about it from a foreigner, however!  
  • Those are German cities: Yes, cities like Gdańsk and Wrocław used to be part of Germany and other countries at various points in time. However, there is nothing more Poles hate than to hear about this topic, especially in a world where countries are invading other countries in the name of such issues. You will at once make an enemy by saying such things in Poland. 
  • Death Camps: The death camps were done by Nazi Germany, not Poland. The phrase “Polish death camps” angers Poles. So, use the proper phrase. 
  • Communism: If you are a Marxist, you will not be loved in Poland. Communism was a terrible time in Polish history, and there are few Poles who view it favorably. So, maybe keep that opinion to yourself when visiting Poland. In the same area, Russia is not loved by Poland, so coming to Poland and saying how much you love Russia will not make you any fans either. 
  • Stereotypes: There are many stereotypes of Polish people as lazy, stupid, and drunks. Like every country, such people exist. But, in my opinion, Polish people are hard-working, extremely intelligent (almost all have a university degree), and enjoy a drink, but not necessarily in excess. Stereotypes are a guaranteed way to get off on the wrong foot. 

Shoes off in the house: Unless otherwise noted, this is the general rule in Poland. The house is to be kept very clean from outside dirt and trash, and taking shoes off is a part of that. You wouldn’t want to ruin the spotless house that a Polish babcia has been working on all day! 

Dress is typically conservative; you will be judged: This is slowly changing. But Poles dress conservatively, especially older Poles. So, expect to get curious looks depending on how you dress. You will also probably get looks if you appear anything different from a 1960s businessperson. This includes having tattoos, brightly colored hair, unusual piercings, flashy clothes, jewelry, and more.  

In general, Poland has a very formal culture. People say “pani” and “pan” in almost every sentence, to the point where it feels extreme from my perspective. But this is just how it works in Poland. Embrace it, and you will be embraced by Polish natives.  

Similar Posts