Tipping in Montenegro can be confusing, especially for travelers visiting for the first time.
If you're unsure about when and how much to tip, you're not alone. During my 15 years living in Montenegro, coming from a non-tipping culture in New Zealand, I've navigated this cultural landscape and learned from my mistakes.
This article will help you to understand where to tip and how much in Montenegro so that you can avoid embarrassing faux pas during your stay in Montenegro.
In Montenegro, tipping (bakšiš) is a way to show appreciation for good service, but it's not mandatory. You won't face any negative consequences for not tipping.
You should leave a tip for good service at these places:
Generally, if you're pleased with the service, a tip of up to 10% of the bill is a good guideline.
It’s good to remember that most of the waiters, tour guides, hotel staff, and taxi drivers in Montenegro work seasonally, 7 days a week, and for low pay (usually a few hundred euros per month).
These hospitality workers are employed for only a few months of the year and often leave their families elsewhere. Tips make up a large part of their income and are much appreciated if you’re happy with their service.
Not leaving a tip is often interpreted as a sign of dissatisfaction with the service.
When dining in Montenegro's restaurants it's customary to tip around 10% of the total bill, depending on your satisfaction with the service. In one of our favorite restaurants, a waiter called Dačo always takes exceptional care of us and we always leave him a large tip because of this.
For smaller amounts, like in cafes, leaving small change or rounding up to the nearest euro is typical. For example, if your coffee costs €1.90, you might leave €2-2.50. In more upscale settings or for larger groups, a tip of €2-3 is appropriate.
If you're paying by card, leave a cash tip directly to the server, as card tips will go to the restaurant rather than the individual server.
Some places might also include a cover charge (kuver), but this is not a tip for your waiter.
Remember, there are no strict rules, and tipping more for exceptional service is always appreciated.
When you're on a tour in Montenegro and want to tip your guide for excellent service, consider giving between 5-10% of the tour's total cost.
It's common to tip guides in Montenegro, and if you're particularly pleased with their passion and the joy they bring to your experience, a tip of €5-10 is a generous way to show your appreciation.
Remember, tipping is entirely voluntary, so you should feel comfortable deciding whether and how much to tip based on your satisfaction with the tour.
In Montenegro's hotels, tipping the staff, including cleaning staff and bellboys, is a kind gesture and is generally appreciated.
There's no strict rule on how much to tip, but a common practice is to give €1-2 for each day of your stay to the cleaning staff. Tipping the hotel porter €1 per bag is also customary when they help with your luggage. You can also tip any waitstaff or reception staff who have been particularly helpful.
A simple guideline is about €1 per day, but ultimately, the amount you tip is up to you and should reflect your satisfaction with the service provided.
In Montenegro, tipping taxi drivers isn't required, but it's common to round up the fare to the nearest euro as a small thank you. For example, if your fare is €9, you might just leave a €10 note.
Remember, if you’re taking an unmetered taxi, agree on the final fare with the taxi driver before starting your journey to avoid any nasty surprises. Once, I got into an unmetered taxi by accident and had to pay €5 for a trip that usually cost me €1.50.
Tipping in this case is more about showing appreciation for good service rather than a mandatory practice.
You should always tip in cash in Montenegro. In restaurants, tip your waiter by leaving cash on the table when you leave. In hotels, you can leave a cash tip for your housekeeping staff in the room.
For all others, hand them the tip personally.
Locals often understand a nod or a smile as a non-verbal cue for keeping the change.
Once, when my father, who is Asian, was paying a restaurant bill in cash, he handed the money along with the bill to the waiter. In his culture, nodding in thanks is a common gesture of respect.
The waiter, interpreting this nod as a sign to keep the change, didn't return with his change. This led to an awkward moment when my father, expecting his change, had to ask for it. The waiter was visibly embarrassed by the misunderstanding.
To avoid this situation, just hand your waiter the bill and money without nodding your head.