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In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette that is ingrained in all trades, from wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades. The question `when?` or `how much?` can leave some travelers confused, as the practice varies.

This guide attempts to cover most situations that you, as a tourist, will encounter. Hopefully using these `tips` will provide a smooth experience when interacting with locals in restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators, and taxis.

Tipping etiquette in Albania is like most European countries, if you were given outstanding service, a good tip will be appreciated by the staff, people either round up the bill or leave a percentage, but this is not compulsory.

Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars, or should I use the Albanian Lek?

The currency of Albania is the Albanian Lek (LEK). US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for Albanian Lek upon arrival. In our culture we can put everything on credit and debit cards, however, in Europe, you will find it useful to always keep a little cash on hand. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and in many locations throughout the city.

Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?

When dining in restaurants, cafes, and bars in Albania you can simply round up the bill if you wish to leave a tip, rounding up to the nearest full amount or tipping around 5%-10% of the bill is sufficient. Consider tipping more if your service is outstanding, the service workers in Albania do not make that much money and a little can go a long way.

Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?

Staff in hotels throughout Albania will be extremely grateful to receive any tip you give them, it's a nice gesture if the employee has taken care of you. Anything up to 200 LEK a day is an ample amount, tipping the housekeepers who keep your room clean, bellmen that help with your bags, and the concierge who helps plan an excursion or makes dinner reservation for you. It is polite, but not required and you may have to be persistent when tipping.

Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?

Tipping taxi drivers in Albania is not a common practice. However, rounding up the fare to the nearest hundred lek and leaving the change is a wonderful gesture. Use your discretion if the driver was friendly and helpful and you would like to tip, then go ahead and leave some extra change, but it is not at all required. Always remember when travelling abroad that it is good practice to agree on a final fare before the cab driver begins driving.

Tour Guides: Is a tip required?

Tipping a tour guide in Albania is very much appreciated, but never expected. A common practice is to tip 10% of the total cost of your tour, some tour operators may include a tip in the total price, so be sure to check your receipt. .

Final Thoughts:

Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. Unlike in the U.S., waiters are paid a living wage, and the expectations for tipping are lower in Albania than in America. This is also true for hotel staff, though if you encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.

When paying for services in cash (which we generally recommend for services other than your hotel) remember to take your receipt. This is important for two reasons; If you leave a tip on a credit card, the person providing the service may not always get it, and if there is a discrepancy it is important to have your receipt to settle it with the manager of the establishment and to prove that you paid for the service.