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I will be in Istanbul for a week. Do I have to tip in restaurants or not?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I'm in Istanbul right now, and when I got here I asked a friend who has been here before. According to her, no, it's not required, but is always welcome. I have not got any noticeable negative reactions over the past week from not tipping, and very gracious thanks when I have done so, but I'm still new to the country and may have trouble 'reading' people if they are being polite when I haven't tipped. Usually it's been when I haven't liked the service or felt it was already very overpriced for what was offered - not unusual in extremely touristy restaurants, for example, which you may want to avoid.

Corrections welcome from native Turks, of course :)

I just got a bill a minute ago for 18 lira for a coffee and two beers, and paid with a 20 lira note and no change. 2 lira = 1 dollar US/CA/AU - honestly, at that amount, it barely matters.

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I just created an account to tell you guys that (as a Turkish guy) I can confirm that this answer is absolutely correct. –  Memet Olsen Apr 4 at 15:11

It really depends.

If it's a high or mid-range restaurant, you are not obligated to but it is considered 'nice' to leave a tip since you can afford an expensive meal. At most cheap eateries where food costs a few lira, you aren't expected to tip. I mostly just left the coin liras as tips whenever I felt uncertain about how 'posh' a restaurant was.

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I am licklier to tip for good service in a cheap café then in a high-range restaurant; I tip when the service is better then what I would expect relative to what I have paid. –  Ian Ringrose Aug 9 '13 at 22:10

I went to reasonably cheap restaurants and I tipped a bit, depending on how I liked the food quantity/quality. I always got nice reactions. Also, food is reasonably cheap anyway, so a tip will not make much difference.

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I did the same. Went to budget places off the main tourist areas and I was mostly pleased so I left the change. –  greg121 Nov 21 '12 at 7:59

"keep the change" will work in many situations, or simply leaving the change on the table. There is no percentage expectation whatsoever. In Turkish culture, tipping is more of a nice gesture than social obligation.

As mentioned in other answers, it will always create a nice reaction from the serving staff or owner (if it's a small place), and they may even do a small gesture (offer candy, etc.)

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