Guide to Tipping in Iceland

Guide to Tipping in Iceland

Imagine finishing a delicious meal at your favorite seafood restaurant in Reykjavik and your friendly waiter brings you the bill. Or, you’re wrapping up an excellent guided tour around the Golden circle. Or even you’re at the bar ordering a round of Kaldi Blondes for your table. The question that will surely be on your mind is should you tip in Iceland or not.

Understanding the tipping culture in Iceland can help you better budget for your trip and help to avoid unintentional awkward or insulting gestures. So, you’ll find out whether you should bring extra change to tip or not.

Should you tip when visiting Iceland?

Keep the extra change in your pocket because you do not have to tip when visiting Iceland. Tipping is not a part of the Icelandic culture, however, you may encounter a few tip jars on shop countertops.

When coming from a place where tipping is the norm, it’s a culture shock to find out that it’s not something that Icelanders do. Although Icelanders understand what tipping is, they have yet to adopt the practice into their services. Therefore, when receiving your bill at a restaurant, you won’t see a space to leave your tip nor have the hotel bellhop waiting with their hand out after helping with your bags.

a man holding icelandic money for tipping

Why tipping isn’t the norm in Iceland

Before you leave behind a few extra krónur at your table when you leave, here are a few things to consider about Iceland tipping. 

Economic

Tipping has a direct connection to the economic policies in Iceland. The country sets wage regulations based on what would be sufficient to live. Therefore, employees don’t rely on tip to supplement their salaries like in other countries.

Political

Talks about tipping in Iceland always bring up debates for local for or against the gesture. It’s a political topic that has supporting arguments on both sides. Some people argue that if tipping becomes the norm in Iceland, it could impact the way wages are structured. So, it’s best not to alter a system that’s currently working for the locals.

Social

Icelanders are very friendly people. However, tipping is one thing that can send either a positive or negative message, depending on who you tip. Some people and venues gladly welcome tipping as it shows appreciation for a job well done. Others may feel averse to tips such as the awkwardness of accepting them or a feeling of not being deserving of extra money since they’re already paid for their work.

A New Culture Emerging

Even though you do not have to tip in Iceland, you can still encounter tipping and more recently being more acceptable. As tourism grows in Iceland, travel and hospitality service workers interact with more visitors unaware of the no-tipping policy. 

Tour guides, hotel workers, restaurant waiters, etc. frequently receive tips from travelers. The tips are generally accepted if you want to leave one but you won’t be prompted to tip. Alternatively, there are some bakeries, cafes, and other local businesses that welcome tips when making a purchase.

If you’re unsure about tipping or not, remember that you do not have to tip in Iceland. Tipping is only based on if you want to leave one. However, tipping is never expected or demanded when traveling to Iceland.

Tip jar in iceland

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