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EXPLAINED: When and how much should you tip in Austria?

Every country has its own tipping culture, which can lead to misunderstandings for people not familiar with it. Here’s what you need to know about tipping in Austria.

Cafe Sperl is one of Vienna's oldest, and most famous, coffee houses. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN
Cafe Sperl is one of Vienna's oldest, and most famous, coffee houses. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN

The tipping culture in Austria is similar to most other Western countries (apart from North America) in that leaving a tip is at the discretion of the customer.

To put it simply, if you receive good service and want to show some appreciation then feel free to leave a tip (known as Trinkgeld in Austria).

The difficulty though is knowing what is an acceptable amount to tip and in which situations are tips expected in Austria?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the standard amount to tip in Austria – and how do I tip?

The unspoken rule is to tip around 10 percent, which is similar to other countries like Germany and the UK. 

Imogen Saunders, who lives in Tirol, told The Local: “I normally tip five to ten percent by rounding up. For example, if the bill is €18 then I would just hand over €20 and say, ‘Passt schon so’ [it’s already fixed].”

FOR MEMBERS: Why is cash so important to Austrians?

Another way to round up and communicate it to the staff is to say “Stimmt so” when paying the bill, which basically means “keep the change”.

Not sure where to put the tip after paying? 

Either give it straight to the member of staff, ask for it to be added to the amount on the card or place it in a Trinkgeld jar, which is usually a piggy bank (or money box) conveniently placed near the till.

It’s also common place to give the server a number when you order, so that they know how much you are tipping. 

If the bill comes to €12.50, and you want to 50 cents, you can simply say “mach mal Dreizehn, bitte” or even “Dreizehn”, which means “make it 13” or simply “13”. The server will say thanks and will know how much change to give you. 

When to tip in Austria

Even though tipping is not as embedded in the culture in Austria like in the US and Canada, there are still many situations when it is expected. 

Toni Krain, from Ireland, told The Local: “In comparison to Ireland, a tip is more expected in Austria. It doesn’t need to be a percentage but it’s more to show some appreciation. 

“In Austria I would even leave a little tip in the bakery whereas at home I would only tip if going out for dinner. I wouldn’t tip if I had bad service here though, so it’s not like in the US where you have to tip.”

READ MORE: Could coronavirus end Austria’s love affair with cash?

Newcomers to Austria might also be confused about when to tip in relation to the standard of service, which can differ to other countries.

Imogen, from Scotland, said: “I think the standard for what qualifies as acceptable service in Austria is lower than in the UK and much lower than in the US. 

“By that I mean that waiting staff in Austria generally have a hands-off approach and leave you alone unless you ask for something else. In the UK and the US there is more of a push from businesses to turn tables around and up-sell drinks and desserts.”

If in doubt, the easiest approach is to just round up to a nice even number when paying the bill. Although leaving a small tip is also a way to show disappointment.

Tipping in cafes, bars and restaurants

Waiting staff in restaurants in Austria will expect a minimum tip of 10 percent, but it’s not unusual for people to leave up to 15 or 20 percent – especially if the food and service was good.

Tipping is also common in bars, particularly if the staff run a tab and serve several drinks.

In cafes, the 10 percent “rule” still applies, although most people just round up the bill. For example, if a coffee costs €3.70 then most people will pay €4.

Tipping in hotels and taxis 

It’s common to tip staff in hotels in Austria, such as luggage and cleaning staff.

To tip a hotel porter, give €1 for every piece of luggage carried. For room maids, consider leaving €1 for every night stayed in the hotel.

When it comes to taxis, again 10 percent is the magic number, but it’s at the discretion of the customer.

Tipping when you might least expect it

Although there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to tipping in Austria, do be prepared to see trinkgeld piggy jars in some unusual places.

Tip jars have been spotted everywhere, such as at the reception desk of a gynaecologist’s practice and it’s common for places like a mechanic’s workshop to have a tip jar near the till.

In these situations, any tips usually go towards buying coffee and cake for the staff, and there is no obligation to leave money – unless you want to.

READ ALSO: How to drink coffee like an Austrian

Theresa, a physiotherapist in Tirol, told The Local that the tipping culture in Austria often extends into more specialised services, such as physiotherapy, which is in stark contrast to her native UK.

She said: “In the UK I was once given a tip from a patient and it caused real trouble at the rehab centre where I worked. My bosses didn’t know whether I was allowed to keep the money or not.”

In Austria, a hair salon is another place where tips are expected. If someone sits for several hours while having their hair coloured, then the polite thing to do is to tip 10 percent.

A tip can even be left at the supermarket or at a clothes store in Austria by rounding up when paying with cash. 

Essential words and phrases

Can I pay please? – Kann ich bitte Zahlen?

Keep the change – Stimmt, so

The bill – Die Rechnung

How much does it cost? – Wie viel kostet das?

Separate – Getrennt (as in pay separately)

Tip – Trinkgeld

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WEATHER

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

With violent storms becoming increasingly common in Austria, here’s how to protect yourself (and your home) this summer.

Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

Storms are a regular occurrence in Austria during the summer months, but the strength and frequency seems to be increasing.

Overnight on Tuesday, June 28th, both the Pöllinger and the Treffner rivers in Carinthia burst their banks causing widespread flooding, mudslides and damage across the region.

Reports on Wednesday morning said the villages of Treffen am Ossiacher See and Arriach (Villach-Land district) were still metres under water and several people had been rescued from the deluge.

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in an emergency in Austria

According to ORF, emergency services were still struggling to reach some areas and there were unconfirmed reports of missing people.

A Tweet from Unwetter-Freaks said: “Bad pictures from #Arriach in #Kärnten , which was hit by several storm cells last night. According to ORF, the place is currently cut off from the outside world and cannot be reached by the emergency services.”

Earlier this week, rural areas in Upper Austria were also hit by storms (overnight, June 27th) bringing torrential rain and hail the size of golf balls, which caused extensive damage to crops and grassland in the key agricultural state.

READ ALSO: 23 essential articles to help you navigate life in Austria

The Klaus reservoir had to be drained of 200 cubic metres of water to avoid flooding and trees were brought down across the province by wind gusts – some up to 91 km/h.

The Kronen Zeitung reports the storm caused damage to around 16,000 hectares of agriculture land, with insurers estimating the cost to be up to €6.5 million.

One Tweet showed the size of the hail on Monday night and read: “In the night we had ‘light’ hail.”

Storms then hit the region again on Tuesday night leading to a lightning strike on a hay barn in the Mühlviertel and the flooding of an underground car park in Linz.

With the summer season far from over and the possibility of more wild weather in the coming months, here’s how to stay safe during storms in Austria.

FOR MEMBERS: When and where to avoid driving in Austria this summer

Check the weather report

It might sound obvious, but checking the weather forecast should be at the top of the list of summer storm preparations.

Unlike in the past, weather reports are now typically reliable, and apps like Bergfex and Accuweather are well-known for providing detailed forecasts and weather warnings.

However, long-range forecasts can change quickly, so if you’re planning a camping or hiking trip, be sure to check the weather between 24 and 48 hours before to avoid being caught out.

Additionally, the Österreichischen Unwetterzentrale (Austrian Severe Weather Centre) has regular updates about storms and weather forecasts for Austria and users can sign up for email and SMS notifications.

Stay indoors

According to the organisation, Die Helfer Wiens (The Helpers of Vienna) one of the biggest risks during a storm is being hit by a fallen tree or flying debris.

For this reason, they advise people (and pets) to stay indoors during a storm and close all windows and doors. 

If staying in a tent or campervan, it’s also a good idea to seek shelter in a building (if possible) until the storm has passed.

However, if you are outside during lightning, the Austrian Red Cross says the best approach is to crouch down into a ball to reduce the amount of contact you have with the floor.

READ MORE: How to keep your apartment cool in Austria this summer amid rising energy prices

Stay away from the cellar

Cellars and underground car parks can quickly become flooded during heavy rain – as seen in recent storms in Upper Austria and Carinthia, and last year during violent storms across Austria.

Flash flooding can happen quickly (the clue is in the name), so stay away from cellars and underground spaces during a storm and call the emergency services if you suspect a flood in your home.

Remove plants and furniture from balconies

Having plants and flowers on a balcony is a lovely way to brighten up an outside space, but they risk being damaged during a storm.

To safeguard your pots and lovingly-planted flora, move them inside – especially during a thunderstorm with strong wind gusts and lightning.

The same applies to any outdoor furniture that could be damaged by wind or hail, like cushions, decorative objects and sun umbrellas.

Park cars under shelter

Hail is one of the leading causes of dents to bodywork on cars and damage to windscreens, both of which can be costly to repair.

If hail is forecast during a storm, park a car in a garage or under shelter, if possible. 

If strong wind is expected, then avoid parking a car under trees as debris, or even the tree itself, could end up landing on the vehicle.

FOR MEMBERS: EXPLAINED: How Austria banned everyone from the forest for 123 years

Don’t go into the forest

Whether walking or driving, the best advice is to stay from the forest or areas with lots of trees during a storm.

While sheltering under a tree can protect from rain or hail, lightning or strong wind can bring down trees. This makes the forest a dangerous place to be in a storm.

But if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being in a forest when a thunderstorm hits, stay away from low branches and tree trunks and crouch down low. Place any walking sticks or metal poles away from you and stay away from metal fences.

Avoid risky activities

Certain outdoor activities are especially hazardous if there’s a lightning storm. 

Any activity in an open area or that puts you into contact with water or metal is strongly advised against. So that means fishing, swimming, boating, cycling and golfing are out until the storm is over. 

Keep torches and candles ready

Power cuts are common during storms, so keep a stock of candles and torches ready in case you end up without electricity for several hours.

It’s also a good idea to have a portable USB charger to make sure your phone doesn’t run out of battery during an emergency.

Who to call in an emergency

These are the numbers to call if you need help from the Austrian emergency services during a storm.

122 – fire service (Feuerwehr).

133 – police (Polizei).

144 – ambulance (Krankenwagen or Rettungswagen).

120 – ÖAMTC emergency breakdown service.

123 – ARBÖ emergency breakdown service.

140 – mountain rescue.

Finally, 112 is the single European emergency number, whose operators will direct you to the relevant services. This number can even be called on a locked mobile phone without needing the pin.

Find out more with The Local’s guide on who to call and what to say in an emergency.

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