The practice of tipping, though not customary everywhere, is generally accepted as a way of expressing your satisfaction with a service. In Croatia, as in many European countries, tipping is appreciated, but not always expected.Unlike in the United States, for example, where tips make up most of a server’s pay, in Croatia, servers don’t depend on tips to make a living wage. Service, accordingly, isn’t always what it could be. Nevertheless, servers still don’t make much, so tips for friendly and efficient service are welcome.
How much you tip in Croatia is rather arbitrary and depends on a number of factors: the service, how much your bill is, how much money you have, and how generous you’re feeling. The general rule of thumb in most situations is to round up.
Bars and cafes
If you go out for a drink or a coffee, no tip is expected, but it’s not uncommon for customers to round up their bill or leave some small change. For example, if your bill for a couple of coffees comes to 18 HRK, you could round up to 20, leaving your server a couple of kuna. But if your bill is 20 HRK and you leave 20 HRK, that’s fine, too. You don’t need to frantically scrounge up some change for a tip.
Customers almost always tip at restaurants, but again, this seems to be fairly arbitrary and depends on service, the type of restaurant, the amount billed, and what you have on you. At a more casual restaurant, you can simply round up or leave some change. A 10 percent tip is a good tip; rarely do customers leave more. A 15 percent tip is typically reserved for excellent service. Usually, leaving a couple of 10 HRK bills is sufficient.
Be sure to check the bill before you pay – occasionally, there will be a “cover” charge, particularly at restaurants that get a lot of tourist traffic. If asked about the charge, your server will likely explain that it covers the cost of bread or a small appetizer that you might have thought was complementary. If there’s a cover charge, I would tip less or not at all depending on the price.
Again, arbitrary. Some people never tip cab drivers. Some people always tip them. I tend to follow the old “round up” rule. If a ride costs me 27 HRK, I’ll give the driver 30, assuming he did his job well. A ride from town to the airport usually costs around 90 HRK; rounding up to 100 HRK seems fair for prompt service and some help with my bags. Generally, though, tipping for a cab ride is not expected, so if you don’t have extra for a tip, don’t sweat it.
For most other services, like a haircut, for example, tipping is not expected, but it is much appreciated. In these cases, a 10 percent tip is plenty. I once gave an aesthetician a big old American-style tip for a wax and a pedicure, and she just about fainted. Something less would have been more than sufficient.
In sum – you can basically tip however much you feel like tipping, but it’s simply not necessary to leave 15 – 20 percent tips like you might at home. If in doubt, simply round up. At restaurants, leave around 10 percent of your bill. And don’t forget to check your bill for service or cover charges.