Tipping in Istanbul, Turkey (Guidance & Tips)

If you’re planning a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, and are unsure about the tipping etiquette and whom to tip, you’re not alone. I was also initially unsure about this during my visit to the city.

Therefore, in this blog post, I will provide you with some useful tips (pun intended) on tipping in Istanbul.

In what currency should you tip in Turkey?

It is always better to give tips in the local currency: the Turkish Lira. However on the rare occasion where you might not have any local money on you and you want to give a tip, then use only bills as coins aren’t easy to exchange.

Even if you stick to local currency when tipping, do bear in mind that the Turkish coins (kurus) are of little value, so it may come off as a bit insulting if you use them to tip.

tipping in Istanbul Turkey

Tipping culture in Turkey

Tipping is customary in Turkey, particularly in restaurants and with couriers and it’s done to show appreciation for good service. Some people also tip to get better service in the future. This means that tips are not mandatory, but they are welcomed.

How much you should tip varies depending on the situation, but generally speaking, a tip between 5% and 10% of the bill should be sufficient in most cases.

Who and how much to tip in Istanbul?


In Istanbul as well as in other parts of Turkey, it’s common to tip 10% of the bill in restaurants. While this is the standard practice, you may of course tip more or less depending on the level of service you received (and yes, it’s also OK not to tip if the experience was really bad).

Also, you should check the bill first since some restaurants already include a service charge and in this case, there’s no need to tip. Unless of course you received amazing service and you want to additionally reward your server.

In addition, in some establishments, you might notice musicians that move from table to table, playing for tips. If you don’t want them to play for you then simply signal them a short “no” with your hand or head.

They’ll not take offense and simply move to another patron. However, if you have them play one or a few songs by your table, then you should tip them.

You should always make sure you have cash for tips since tipping by card is not common or even if the restaurant accepts it, the money may go directly to the owner, instead of the server.

You can either leave the tip inside the bill holder (if you received one) or you can give it directly to the server. I usually don’t really like leaving the tips on the table, but that’s just me.

balat istanbul


Usually, after a tour ends, the guide will indicate how you can leave a tip (most likely they have a bucket of some sort to collect tips). On occasions, you might find that they can be a bit pushy regarding tips.

Taxis, Uber, and other transfers

When it comes to taxis, the usual practice is to round up the bill instead of tipping. In the case of Uber, you can leave a tip in the app if you want to.

In the case of a private transfer, you can tip the driver between 5% and 10% of the fare.

Turkish Baths (Hammam)

At the end of your bath, the attendees will come to waive you goodbye. This is your cue to tip. An acceptable amount is between 15% and 20% of the total cost of the services.

Extra thoughts on tipping

In Turkey and other parts of the world, tipping expectations can be higher for US tourists.

The reason for this is that they tend to tip as they do back home, where the income of the people in the service industry is directly dependent on tips and this is usually much more than the local norm.

While technically there’s nothing wrong with tipping better, you should also think about how this can affect locals: people in the service industry might be inclined to prioritize US tourists over them. But of course, how much to tip is ultimately your choice.

Wrap up

Now that you are somewhat familiar with the tipping culture in Istanbul, it’s time to plan your trip there. I recommend you read my other posts on Turkey for more travel tips and guides.

Happy travels~

3 thoughts on “Tipping in Istanbul, Turkey (Guidance & Tips)”

  1. With the currency exchange rate, the lower costs of everything, I really kind of panicked when it came to tipping (I panic in the US when it comes to tipping in the US, except restaurants). One man at a mosque asked if I wanted to donate to help charity, at first I said no and then thought I had a few coins in my pocket. I gave him 1 lira and later realized that was about 4-cents. In some restaurants it was confusing about the tip—various people came around to serve the food and other man came for us to pay the bill. I didn’t check if the bill included the tip. At another nice bakery where we sat on the terrace, I put the cash in the box with the bill (an amount that covered the bill) and the waiter pulled out his phone to translate ‘service fee 10%’ so I quickly added that. Another restaurant added the service fee tot he bill. And a few other places (Hamam, the hotel desk person who called a taxi, tip for housekeeping) I worried that I under tipped. I had looked up guides on what to tip but later realized they were a few years old, and the economy/inflation/exchange rate has changed drastically over the years.

    1. Honestly, I think tipping kinda lost its meaning in recent times and it’s become more like automatically expected rather than something that should be earned through great service. I will also admit that I had tipped in the past when the service was not that good simply because of social pressure. And through this, I contributed to the problem.
      There’s also the US tipping situation which I simply don’t understand and feels totally wrong to me in all aspects, meaning, in my opinion, a worker should always be paid by their employer directly for their work and not have to depend on other people.
      However, generally speaking, outside of the US (I will mention that my experience is mainly with Europe and Asia), tipping is mostly done in restaurants, for food deliveries (but a smaller amount than for dining in restaurants), and for things like getting your hair done, etc, while for taxis, the price is just rounded up a bit. Tipping hotel staff is not as widespread and if it’s done it’s usually in a resort where they took really good care of you.
      Of course, there are countries where tipping is more expected than in others and countries where tipping is not expected at all like Japan or Australia.
      There’s also the overtipping issue which can cause problems for the locals. So yeah tipping is a complicated matter. And things change quite fast.
      I would say some good practices are to always check if a service charge is included, when in doubt either round up or go with a 10%, and try to research the local customs beforehand the best that you can (blogs/forums/maybe even ask a local if possible). Of course, if you receive amazing service you can and probably should be generous, but if it was really bad, it’s also ok not to tip.
      Lastly, be prepared for some people to simply expect a tip because you’re a tourist which I kinda think was the situation with the “waiter pulled out his phone to translate ‘service fee 10%’”, since if it was an ‘official’ service fee it would have been written somewhere on the bill and/or the menu.

    2. Also, for restaurants where several people serve you or someone serves you and another comes to give you your bill, I try to tip the person that actually served me if I can, if not I just leave it on the table and hope they all split the tips.

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