Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | January 27, 2011

Molly’s Cafe: Tipping in Turkey

Some tourist customers ask me what the protocol is for tipping in Turkey, so here it is.

First of all, usually there is a 10% tip. It can be more or less, depending on the service. However, it is important to check the bill that comes. At some places some things are added (by mistake?) or some things that are ordered are not delivered. Often a place will include a ‘servis’, which is the tip. This is especially true for groups of 6 or more. Often tourists don’t know that or don’t understand what it is, so they tip more, which is course is fine if the food and waiter have been good. Also, understand that most waiters make minimum wage, which is about 600 lira a month (about $400 or 300 Euros), so they really need the tips.

One of my friends says that he never tips the owner of a restaurant. As an owner, I have to say that for most places, that is the person who needs it the most!

One of my pet peeves is people who bring their children and don’t tip. I have grown children, but I remember when they were small. As a parent I was used to the havoc they sometimes created. However, now that I am not around small children much, I am not used to the havoc. I think people who bring children should pay at least a 20% tip.




Another group who should tip are the ones who make a mess. For example, a couple came in and as they left, the husband knocked over the tea pot, which then spilled all over the tablecloth and the wall. Did they leave a tip? Not one kurush. Sometimes juice from the lasagna or spagetti spill on the tablecloth or sometimes I find a lot of breadcrumbs or cake crumbs. Those people should also be more aware and leave a tip or a bigger tip.

Some people also ask about tipping taxi drivers. I often round up the change, but other than that, I don’t tip them, as I have been ripped off by too many. Of course, if a taxi driver has been helpful or even conversational (other than ‘Are you married? Do you have a boyfriend?’) I may add a tip. Some friends get the taxi driver to carry their groceries up to their flats and then give an extra 5 lira or so.

Some meyhanes, or fish restaurants, have strolling musicians. They play for tips and there is a technique to tipping them. For example, the violinist will lean over the table and the customer can stick a 5 or 10 lira note into the strings (up top) or into his pocket. If you don’t want the musicians to serenade you, you can wave them away graciously. Or just sit and look embarrassed.

Turks often do not tip. However, when a friend opens a place, a Turk will pay, for example, 10 or 20 lira for a tea. That is considered good luck money to get the business rolling.





Who are the best tippers? I think Americans are. They know that the waiter or whoever can use the money and they are more used to the idea. Europeans often round up the amount when they pay (‘make it 20’ for an 18 lira bill, for example). Others just leave something on the table or put some coins into the tip box.




And those coins! I have a collection of money from all over the place– Euros, American change, Canadian change, Lebanese change, grivna from Ukraine, and a few mystery coins. I can’t change change, however, as the exchange offices will not take it or will give a reduced rate (for example for Euro coins). It’s kind of fun to have the random change in the tip box. You never know when I will go to one of those countries or else I can give them to someone who is going.



So, there you have tipping in Turkey. When you are at Molly’s Café, be sure to leave something on the table or in the tip box!



  1. Thank you for this! I’ve often wondered about how much to tip in Turkey, since my friends have told me contradictory information. A lot of my Turkish friends said that the tip is usually included in the cheque, and that you normally only tip at higher end restaurants and not the mom & pop joints because everyone who works there is family. Personally I think you should tip better at the smaller joints.

  2. Just found this blog, thanks for the guidance on tipping in Turkey.

    The same thing was asked recently on the Turkish Life Forums and got mixed responses – the Americans are more used to tipping whereas the europeans are not.

    It would be interesting to hear more views on this, for example do Turks tip routinely?

    • a customer told me just the other day that tipping in europe is becoming a thing of the past, as it is included in the bill. some turks tip, but most do not, especially when they pay with a credit card. i am a little cranky about that because two turkish families were just here, spilled lemonade on the table and food on the floor, paid with credit cards, and did not tip at all. grrr.

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