Tipping in Iceland: Unraveling the “Gefa” Culture

Explore Iceland's fascinating tipping culture and find out why it differs from traditional practices. From service-inclusive pricing to the concept of "Gefa," this article provides valuable insights into tipping norms in various sectors such as restaurants, hotels, and transportation. Embrace the cashless society and discover alternative ways to show appreciation beyond monetary rewards.
Tipping in Iceland
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Welcome to Iceland, a captivating travel destination known for its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and unique tipping customs. As you embark on your journey, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of tipping in this fascinating country. In Iceland, tipping is not mandatory, thanks to the country’s robust minimum wage laws and the fair compensation service providers receive. However, it’s still good to be aware of the local practices and cultural considerations. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into Iceland’s tipping culture, service charges, common practices, and alternative ways to show appreciation.

Tipping Culture in Iceland

In Iceland, tipping is not expected or required. The country’s strong labor laws ensure that service providers, such as waitstaff, taxi drivers, and hotel staff, receive fair compensation for their work. This means you can relax and enjoy your time in Iceland without the pressure of calculating and leaving tips at every interaction. The Icelandic people take great pride in their jobs and are committed to providing excellent service regardless of tips.

Service Charges and Gratuity

When dining out or utilizing services in Iceland, it’s important to be aware of service charges. Some establishments may include a service charge, typically around 10%, in the bill. This practice ensures that service providers are adequately compensated for their work. If a service charge is already included in your bill, there’s no need to leave an additional tip. However, if you feel the service was exceptional and you would like to show extra appreciation, you can still leave a small gratuity.

Common Tipping Practices

While tipping is not customary in Iceland, there are instances where you may choose to show your gratitude for exceptional service. Here are some common service sectors and their tipping norms:

Restaurants and Cafés

In restaurants and cafés where a service charge is not included, it is not expected to leave a tip. The price displayed on the menu or bill covers the service provided, including fair wages for the staff. However, if you received exceptional service or want to show appreciation for a memorable dining experience, leaving a small tip of around 10% is a kind gesture. Remember, tipping is voluntary, and the decision is entirely up to you.

Bars and Nightclubs

Similar to restaurants, tipping at bars and nightclubs in Iceland is not mandatory. When ordering drinks, the price you pay already includes the service provided. However, if the bartender goes above and beyond to make your experience enjoyable, leaving a small tip is appreciated. A tip of 100-200 Icelandic Króna (around $1-2 USD) is a reasonable amount to show your appreciation.

Taxis and Transportation

Tipping taxi drivers is not a common practice in Iceland. The fare displayed on the taximeter is the final amount you need to pay. However, if the driver provides exceptional service, helps with your luggage, or offers insightful information during the journey, you can round up the fare as a token of appreciation. For example, if your fare is 1,800 Icelandic Króna, you can round it up to 2,000 Icelandic Króna (around $16 USD) to show your gratitude.

Hotels and Accommodation

In hotels, tipping is generally not expected. The price you pay for your stay covers the services provided, including the hard work of the hotel staff. However, if the hotel staff delivers exceptional service or assists you with special requests, leaving a small tip at your discretion is a thoughtful gesture. Consider leaving 200-500 Icelandic Króna (around $2-5 USD) for hotel staff who went above and beyond to ensure your comfort.

Tour Guides and Excursions

When participating in guided tours or excursions, tipping your guide is not customary in Iceland. Tour guides in Iceland are highly professional and take pride in providing enriching experiences. However, if your guide exceeds your expectations, shares valuable insights, or makes your excursion truly memorable, you can offer a small tip as a sign of appreciation. A gratuity of 500-1000 Icelandic Króna (around $5-10 USD) is a reasonable amount to acknowledge their exceptional service.

Cultural Considerations

While tipping practices can vary from country to country, it’s essential to respect and adapt to the local customs when traveling. In Iceland, the emphasis is on providing quality service rather than monetary tips. The Icelandic people value genuine hospitality and take pride in their work. Regardless of tips, they strive to offer excellent service to ensure a memorable experience for visitors. Embrace the local culture and show your appreciation through kindness, respect, and acknowledging their efforts.

Alternative Ways to Show Appreciation

In addition to tipping, there are alternative ways to show your gratitude while visiting Iceland. Consider these gestures:

  • Complimenting the service provider: A simple but meaningful way to express your appreciation is by offering a genuine compliment. Whether it’s praising the waitstaff for their attentiveness or thanking the tour guide for their knowledge, a kind word can brighten their day.
  • Writing positive online reviews: Share your positive experiences on travel review websites or social media platforms. By leaving a glowing review, you not only express your appreciation but also help other travelers discover exceptional service providers in Iceland.
  • Supporting local businesses: Engage in responsible tourism by purchasing locally made products, dining at local restaurants, or booking excursions with independent operators. Your support contributes to the local economy and shows your appreciation for the unique offerings of Iceland.


Tipping customs in Iceland differ from many other countries, but understanding the local practices allows you to navigate your trip with ease. Remember, tipping is voluntary, and exceptional service should be acknowledged in a way that feels comfortable to you. Embrace the opportunity to experience the “Gefa” culture of Iceland, where the emphasis lies on genuine hospitality, mutual respect, and quality service. Enjoy your time in this remarkable country, create lasting memories, and show appreciation in ways that extend beyond monetary rewards.