What You Should Know When Dining In Europe

By Mackenzie Taylor
In Food

When traveling to another country, it’s always good to make sure that you understand the dining etiquette before embarking on your journey. While tipping is common in America, it might not be in the country you’re traveling to. So before you go, here is a small guide to dining around Europe.

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France
Tipping
5-10 percent in restaurants (optional!)

Dining

  • Eating is a very important part of the French culture and making sure to have proper etiquette while dining out is extremely considerate. The French eat everything with utensils—including fast food. If you don’t want to stand out, it is recommended that you do the same. Also, make sure to never have your elbows on the table as it’s considered terribly uncouth.
  • Also, avoid splitting the bill in France. Either pay to full amount or have someone else pay and pay them back.
  • When you’re eating bread, be sure to break off a piece instead of biting directly into it. When you’re not eating the bread, be sure to place it on the table. It does not belong on the plate.

Germany
Tipping
5-10 percent in restaurants (again, optional. However, it is typical to “round up” the amount to an even figure.)

Dining

  • Spoiler alert: Water is not free in Germany. It’s not customary to receive water at your table, and upon request, you’ll be asked whether you prefer still or sparkling. Along with water not being free, most of the time bread, butter, rolls and table settings can sometimes be added to the bill as a separate cover charge. Be aware: Germany isn’t trying to rip you off. It’s just the custom.
  • To indicate the food is tender, and to compliment the chef, cut food as much as possible with your fork.

Italy

Tipping
Not necessary.

Dining

  • In Italy, there aren’t a plethora of dressings like we’re used to in the States. The main dressings you will be offered are olive oil, salt and vinegar.
  • Do not ask for a to go box.
  • If you’re not offered cheese, don’t ask for more. It’s a huge faux pas to put extra cheese on top of your pizza.
  • Don’t leave your fork and knife on your plate for very long if you’re not done eating, as that is a signal to waiters that you are finished with your meal.
  • When you’re finished with your bill, you need to ask for your check as it is considered rude for the waiter to ask if you want it. The only time a waiter will bring you a check without you asking is at an especially crowded restaurant.

Spain
Tipping
Not necessary. If people do tip, it’s usually loose change.

Dining

  • Do not waste any food. It’s considered rude if you don’t eat everything on your plate. It’s better to decline food than not eat it.
  • It’s common to be 15-30 minutes late for a social gathering. So, if someone is late, they aren’t being rude.
  • In most areas of Spain, restaurants will charge for each piece of bread you eat from the bread basket.
  • In Spain, you can choose the table you want unless it has a sign saying that it is reserved. You don’t need to wait for a host to seat you.

Switzerland
Tipping
There is no obligation to tip anyone in restaurants, cafes, bars or hotels.

Dining

  • Don’t use your phone in restaurants; take any calls outside.
  • If you’re finished eating, place your knife and fork on top of each other, pointing them to the right in the center of your plate.

The UK
Tipping
In most places, it’s not common to leave a tip because there will be a percentage already added to your bill. Check the bottom of the bill to see if gratuity was added already. If not, it’s nice to leave 10 percent as staff is paid a minimum wage.

Dining

  • If you go to a pub, a waiter will not come ask for your order. You need to order your drinks and food at the bar, where you will then take your own food and drink to your table.
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