Tipping in Vienna: How to tip like a Wiener
While all the guide books are bound to inform you that tipping is part of the culture, what they may not explain is the how. Tipping in Vienna and Austria in general, is more than just ‘part of the culture’, it is part of their genetic make–up. To blend in, you need not just tip, but learn how to make it as natural as breathing.
But don’t worry, we got your backs and can get you all prepped in just a few short steps.
Step 1: Start developing an abject fear…
…of small change.
Sounds ridiculous, but anything below a 50cent piece is of no interest to you whatsoever, and developing this fear makes tipping significantly easier. If you can convince yourself that the 0.01€–0.20€ don’t even exist, then even better.
We don’t even know who uses them anymore, except that ridiculously annoying person at the super market who counts out 20€ with the small change they found in their sofa at 7:35pm.
Step 2: Rounding up
With a decent fear of small change developed, one starts rounding everything up. Everything below 50 cents is rounded up to 50cents. Everything above that, gets rounded up to the next full Euro.
Step 3: Don’t be a leaver…
No, we are not talking Brexit. We are talking about the coin dump. While it is still ‘OK’ to leave your preferred tip on the table after paying, this is not the way it’s done here. The bar staff hate small change too (see step 1!). Save them the bother of counting out your small change, instead…
Step 4: Announce yourself
‘Melange, 3,20€ bitte’ says the waiter
‘3,50€ bitte’ says you.
By announcing what you will be paying, you save everyone ever having to remember that small change exists. By not telling the waiters the amount you will pay (kind of like a reverse haggle), they will be reminded that small change exists, and probably endeavour to give you all the smallest change they have in their wallets. Which you will then sheepishly leave on the table, probably.
Instead, pretend you are a lavish and magnanimous banker splashing the cash with your rounding up skills.
Step 5: Tip for everything
If the place has seats and offers you the opportunity to sit and enjoy the food and drinks, then you leave a tip. Whether you have eaten or just had an espresso, you still tip. There is a certain amount of leeway when it comes to ‘take–away’, with most people choosing personal preference. We personally prefer to tip even then. Especially, if it is one of our regular take away spots, and we think most waiters would agree. Talking of waiters…
Bonus step: Tip like you are in the business
Waiters can sense other waiters. Either from being out and about on their off days or from the way they tip. Waiters you see, recognise the struggle and see all that goes on even when they are not working. Brothers and sisters in arms they tip, knowing that they live and survive from their own tips and respect that the person serving them is doing the same.
Therefore, if you want to really blend in, tip like a waiter. That means don’t just forget the small change, forget the 0,50cent as well and on a good week or when you have had more than one drink, throw in an extra Euro.
Vienna has all the familiarity of a village at times, faces are easy to remember, especially with people as habitual as they are, you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reason. Trust us when we tell you, waiters remember the bad more than the good, what else can they talk about when drinking the 4am post shift beer.
UPDATE: Make sure to check your receipt! We recently heard a tale of someone tipping and realising afterwards the sneaky waiter had already added some to their bill, this is not common practice but does occur in some of the most touristy places! So watch out!