08-12-2023 - Tips & Guides Updated At: 09-12-2023

Tipping Culture in Istanbul: A Helpful Guide for Travelers

Istanbul, the vibrant heart of Turkey, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and culinary delights. While exploring this fascinating city, understanding the local tipping culture is crucial for ensuring a smooth and respectful experience. For this article, we have prepared a guide to navigating Istanbul's tipping culture for you. But before we dig into this, let’s have a look at the best way to visit this amazing city: Istanbul Tourist Pass®.

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Tipping in Restaurants and Cafes in Istanbul

Tipping in Istanbul restaurants and cafes is not mandatory, but it's considered a gesture of appreciation for good service. The customary tip amount ranges from 5% to 10% of the total bill. However, several factors can influence the appropriate tip:

Factors to consider when tipping in restaurants

Service quality: Was your waiter attentive and friendly? Did they go the extra mile to ensure your experience was enjoyable? Exceptional service warrants a higher tip.

Restaurant type: Upscale restaurants with higher prices may expect a slightly higher tip (around 10-15%) compared to casual cafes.

Group size: For larger groups, the tip is often automatically included in the bill. Double-check the bill before leaving any additional gratuity.

Personal preference: Ultimately, the amount you tip is a personal choice and also it depends on your budget. 

Tipping Methods: How to Tip in Istanbul Restaurants and Cafes

Cash: The most common method is leaving cash directly on the table or in the bill folder after you pay up. Not in restaurants but in cafes, you can put your tip also in tipping boxes. 

Credit card: Although it is not as common as in the USA, some restaurants allow adding a tip to your credit card bill. 

Rounding up: Simply rounding up the bill to the nearest lira is a convenient alternative. but be careful it can be less than you wanted to give as a tip. 

Tipping Taxis in Istanbul

Tipping taxi drivers in Istanbul is not customary but as of the writer of this article, I find it very nice to tip taxi drivers in Istanbul. Although it is not that common, rounding up the fare to the nearest lira is appreciated. If you're happy with the service, you can leave a small additional tip of around 10-20 Turkish Liras less than 1 Euro.

Tipping Norms for Taxi Rides

Short trips: Rounding up the fare is sufficient. You can simply say 'üstü kalsın' which can be translated into 'that's ok' after giving more than your fare. 

Long distances or difficult traffic: A small additional tip around 20- 30 TL is appropriate. Driving around this crowded city can be stressful for drivers so around a 1 dollar/euro can be enough to make the driver happy!

Exceptional service: If the driver goes above and beyond, a 50-100 TL tip shows your appreciation.

Tipping at Hotels in Istanbul: Acknowledging Exceptional Service

When it comes to hotels in Istanbul, tipping is not an obligation, but rather a customary expression of gratitude for exceptional service. The amount you choose to tip is contingent upon the type of service provided and the overall quality of your experience. Let us give you some tips about tipping for 2023. Remember, tipping is not mandatory and the information above is just for helping you if you wish to tip hotel staff.

Tipping Guidelines for Hotel Services

Porters: When entrusting your luggage to the capable hands of porters, a tip ranging from 10-20 TL per bag is considered appropriate. You can simply give 50-100 TL after they bring your suitcases to your room. 

Housekeeping: To recognize the diligent efforts of housekeeping, leaving a daily tip of 20-50 TL on your pillow or bedside table is a common practice for tourists in Istanbul.

Concierge: When the concierge assists with reservations, recommendations, or special requests, a tip of 20-50 TL serves as a thoughtful and nice gesture.

Valet: Express appreciation for valet services with a modest tip of 20-30 TL upon the retrieval of your car if there is no fixed fee for the valet service. 

Bellhops: For the helpful hands of bellhops during check-in or check-out, a tip of 20-30 TL is fitting.

Different Staff Members in Hotels and Appropriate Tips

Front desk staff: While tipping is not mandatory and common, a small gratuity of 20-50 TL for exceptional service is warmly appreciated. It is always a good idea to tip especially in boutique hotels. There can be a tip box on the front desk and you can just put in your tip easily. 

Spa therapists: When indulging in spa services, a tip of 10-15% of the service cost is customary. They generally wait for the tip so it won't be awkward to hand them some cash while leaving. 

Room service: Show appreciation for room service by tipping 10 -15% of the bill on top of any service charge. You can also simply give 20-50 TL which are considered as the smallest TL bills. 

Tour Guides and Excursions: Honoring Expertise and Effort

While tipping tour guides in Istanbul is not obligatory, it's a widely practiced means of acknowledging their knowledge, professionalism, and dedication to making your tour enjoyable. Many people don't tip their tour guides, so it can surprise your guide and make them happy. 

Tipping Expectations for Guided Tours

Short tours (1-4 hours): Consider a tip of 50-100 TL per person as a token of appreciation if you are happy with the tour.

Longer tours (full-day or multi-day): For extended tours, a customary tip ranges from 100-200 TL per person. For some tours, there is a fixed tip expected and this info is generally given by the tour operator while making a reservation. 

Exceptional service: If your guide exceeds expectations, a higher tip of 200-300 TL showcases your gratitude.

Additional factors to consider

Group size: Larger groups may have gratuity included in the tour price. You can tip all together instead of individually. 

Guide's experience and knowledge: A more experienced and knowledgeable guide may warrant a higher tip. Actually, with a great local guide, you will feel the need to gift them, I know that from the personal experience in our tours. 

Overall tour experience: If you enjoyed the tour and gained valuable insights, a higher tip is fitting.

Tipping in Hamam, Spas and Salons in Istanbul

Tipping in spas and salons in Istanbul is not mandatory, but it's customary to show appreciation for good service and the therapist's expertise. Personally, as the writer of this blog, I always tend to tip in hamams, spas and beauty salons, I learned it from my family so I would suggest you tip also. 

Tipping Practices in Spas and Salons

Tipping in Istanbul's spas and salons is customary and considered a way to show appreciation for the therapist's skills and service. The recommended tip amount varies based on the experience:

Massage or facial: 10-15% of the treatment cost is a good guideline. But don't give less than 50 TL anyway. 

Hair and beauty treatments: 5-10% of the service cost is generally appropriate but also consider giving 50 TL minimum. 

Hamam services: Normally after 100-200 TL is appreciated if you have a foam bath and cleaned by a staff. 

Exceptional service: If you were particularly impressed with the therapist's expertise and attentiveness, consider a higher tip of up to 20%. 100-200 TL can be nice for the personnel while it is only 3 dollars/euros for you.

Deciding on an Appropriate Tip

Several factors influence the appropriate tip amount:

Length and complexity of the treatment: Longer or more involved treatments warrant a higher tip.

Experience and reputation of the spa/salon: High-end establishments may expect slightly higher tips.

Overall satisfaction with the service: Consider the therapist's professionalism, communication, and attention to your needs.

Tipping the Porters in Istanbul

Everywhere in the world, tipping the porters is common. Even if you don't have cash for a tip, remember to thank the porter for their assistance. A simple "thank you" or "çok teşekkür ederim" (pronounced chok teshekkur ederim) goes a long way.