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Are you looking to visit Korčula, Croatia’s most fabulous island? Well, you’ve come to the right place — this Korčula travel guide is designed to give you all the information you need to plan the trip of a lifetime.
I’ve explored Croatia extensively over the past decade, and I think Korčula (pronounced KOR-chu-la) is one of the best places in the country. Like most of Croatia, Korčula is brimming with natural beauty. But Korčula is also home to a spectacular wine culture, a stunning old city, a collection of hidden beaches, and some unique dining specialties. Korčula is well known, but it’s not as busy or overcrowded as other Croatian islands.
Most travelers come to Korčula for only a few days — or worse, just a day trip from Dubrovnik. But there are so many interesting things to do in Korčula that you’d be better off staying several days, or even a full week! I stayed six days this time, and I could have stayed for longer.
It’s easy to fall in love with Korčula, Croatia, and my goal is to help YOU fall in love with Korčula as well. Sit back, grab a beverage, and get ready to dive into this incredible Croatian island.
Why choose Korčula over other Croatian islands?
There are so many beautiful islands to visit in Croatia. Why should you choose Korčula over the others?
Most locals have an easy answer for that: WINE. Korčula has a reputation for being the wine island, and it’s home to some varietals you can’t find anywhere else, like Grk and Pošip. While you can find local wine on every Croatian island, Korčula’s wines are head and shoulders above the rest.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching the five major islands between Split and Dubrovnik — Brač, Hvar, Vis, Korčula, and Mljet — and my two favorite islands are Korčula and Vis. While Vis has the best vibe for chilling out, and I think it’s best suited for people who have been to Croatia before, Korčula is best for first-time Croatia visitors or people who want to do lots of interesting things. Korčula has the best things to do, the best cultural background, and the best food and wine experiences of all the Croatian islands.
Whether you want to go bike riding through vineyards that edge along the sea or take in a fearsome Moreška dance performance, whether you want to go wine tasting up and down the island or discover hidden beaches, whether you want to have a Michelin-starred meal or country food in a traditional konoba, Korčula has something for you!
Korčula, to me, feels like a very adult-oriented island. That’s not to say it’s not family-friendly — EVERYWHERE in Croatia is family-friendly — but Korčula’s best treasures are very much for grown-ups. Stay out late at a tapas bar. Have cocktails in the tower of a medieval city wall. Drive down a crazy narrow road to a clear, perfect beach.
Korčula Island Travel
I recommend spending at least three days in Korčula because there’s so much to do here! Spending a week would be fantastic, especially if you add on day trips to nearby Mljet or Pelješac.
In my opinion, Korčula is far better than Hvar. Korčula is more beautiful than Hvar, it’s cheaper, it doesn’t have Hvar’s party crowd, and it has a culinary scene with unique wines. If you’re deciding between the two, definitely go to Korčula!
I recommend staying in Korčula Town to be close to everything, or Lumbarda if you want a seaside town surrounded by vineyards just a short water taxi ride away. I highly recommend Hotel Korčula de la Ville.
The only way to get to Korčula is by ferry. If you have a car, you can take a direct ferry from Split or Orebić on the Pelješac peninsula; there are passenger-only ferries from Dubrovnik, Hvar, and Mljet.
Best Things to Do in Korčula, Croatia
So what are the best things to do in Korčula island? You could spend your days being lazy, sitting on beaches and trying the special wines. You could be more active, biking around the towns and learning to windsurf. I recommend doing some wine-oriented and history-oriented activities in Korčula, as well as taking in a few gorgeous beaches.
Here are my picks for the best things to do in Korčula.
Go on a Biking and Wine Tour
My absolute favorite thing to do in Korčula was taking a bike and wine tour down to Lumbarda! This is a tour organized by the Korčula Tourism Office offering the best of both worlds — physical activity, stunning scenery, and deliciousness. Our guide Lea met us at our hotel with perfectly sized e-bikes and led us on a tour out of Korčula Town down to the village of Lumbarda.
Wine regions are always beautiful — but Lumbarda is on another level. You may have biked through gorgeous vineyards in Tuscany or Sonoma, but have you ever biked through vineyards as bright turquoise ocean waves crash nearby? It was heart-wrenchingly beautiful. I don’t even have the most beautiful shots because I was biking the whole time, but here are a few.
We stopped at Bire Winery and were introduced to Grk wine (pronounced gurk) — a fascinating wine varietal that only grows in Lumbarda. Grk has a long and storied history, dating back to the 5th century AD, when the Ancient Greeks colonized the Adriatic. The word Grk means either Greek or bitter in Croatian. And it only has female flowers — it must be cross-pollinated with male flowers, usually Plavac Mali.
Grk is a full-bodied white wine — the kind that stands strong on its own, announcing its presence. We enjoyed tasting several of Bire’s wines and trying some Dalmatian meats, cheeses, and fish dishes perfectly tailored to the wines.
After that, it was back on the wines, back exploring Lumbarda, stopping at scenic and interesting points all the way back to Korčula Town. I couldn’t get enough of it!
You can book a wine and biking tour through the Korčula Tourism Office. Say hi to Lea for me!
Explore Korčula Old Town
Korčula has a small but mighty old town, stacked up in layers like a wedding cake. It’s small and easy to cover on foot (albeit filled with tons of stairs), and it’s edged with a beautiful pathway along the water, lined with nice restaurants and cafes.
This might be heresy, but I think I like Korčula’s old town more than Dubrovnik’s.
Korčula is one of the rumored homes of Marco Polo — and the people of Korčula lean into this legend, while noting that technically there are no historic records, so we don’t even know if he came from Korčula, Venice, or somewhere else entirely.
You can explore that more, if you’d like. Korčula has a House of Marco Polo. It has great views over the rooftops and entry is 20 kuna ($3) for adults.
If you’d like a guided tour of the old town, contact Korčula Tourism for one of their licensed guides. Say hi to Stanka!
Have Unique Tapas at Lole Wine Bar
If you’ve spent any amount of time along Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, you know that menus tend to offer the same appetizers over and over: marinated anchovies, octopus salad, pršut, cheese, marinated shrimp. (As I write this, I’ve been on the Dalmatian Coast for more than a month. I can recite that menu by heart.)
However, Lole Wine Bar turns Croatian appetizers on their head, serving them in new and rearranged ways, always rotating, and served alongside an interesting selection of local wines. My suggestion? Come here for a NIGHT. Start with the lighter wines and work your way down! End with the nespole (medlar) liqueur, tasting like marzipan.
Lole gets busy at night, and I highly recommend making a reservation for one night of your stay in Korčula.
Explore the Islands by Water Taxi
While Korčula itself is an island, there are a few tiny islands off the coast to visit: most notably, Badija and Vrnik. While there are tours to the islands, it’s cheaper and more flexible to buy a hop-on hop-off water taxi ticket and spend the day exploring at your own pace.
First up is Badija, an uninhabited island home to a monastery. You can visit the monastery and walk the path around the island; it takes about an hour and 45 minutes. If you want to swim, there are some nice hidden beaches on the northern side of the island and some more public ones on the eastern side. There is a snack bar here but it’s otherwise uninhabited.
Next up is Vrnik, significantly smaller than Badija and only inhabited by a few long-term residents. Vrnik feels like an isolated village among the more developed parts of Korčula. If you’re up for a swim, there’s a nice beach right by where the ferry drops you off.
Vrnik Arts Club, a B&B and restaurant, is a cool place to stop for lunch — though a bit pricey. It’s the kind of place where you ask for a menu and the waiter says, “Well, we’ve got some nice octopus today. How about we make that into a nice salad for you, with some arugula and capers, and bring you some bread — how about that?” I agreed. It was lovely.
Finally, the boat takes you to Lumbarda on the mainland — a great place to go swimming, drink wine, or just relax and enjoy the small town atmosphere. Lumbarda is one of the most beautiful parts of Korčula and I recommend taking a few photos at the very least. They even have a sandy beach, rare for Croatia!
You can buy a water taxi ticket from Korčula Town’s water taxi station, right at the base of the Old Town. There are several different water taxi companies, which can be confusing, but Korčula Water Taxi is one of the most frequent, and they sell 24-hour hop-on hop-off tickets for 200 kuna ($31 USD).
Sometimes the water taxis don’t show up exactly on time — I recommend getting there to wait five to ten minutes early, just in case.
See a Moreška Sword Dance
If you’ve heard that Croatia has unique sword dances, THE place to see them is Korčula! This sword dance is called a Moreška and it tells the story of two kings fighting it out with their armies for the love of a kidnapped princess. The show is in Croatian but there are English translations available.
This is a fun and interesting show, so I recommend timing your visit to Korčula so you can get to see it. (I also recommend sitting NOT QUITE in the front row as there are a lot of flying swords!)
Moreška shows take place on Mondays and Thursdays at 9:00 PM in July and August, and on Thursdays at 9:00 PM in June and September. Performances are held in the open-air Ljetno Kino, right in the old town. Tickets are 100 kuna ($16) for adults, 50 kuna ($8) for children age 4-14, and free for children 3 and under, purchased from the Korčula Tourism Office or right at the event.
Try Traditional Honey at OPG Komparak
One of the stops on our bike tour was at OPG Komparak, a shop serving local honeys, olive oils, and other specialties like jams and preserves. This is a great shop and a nice place to stop to try some unique flavors, including sage, mandarin, and forest honey. They offer tastings for 5 euros ($6); you can also book a visit to see the bee boxes.
Amusingly, we saw our beekeeper dance in the Moreška show a few hours after meeting him! You’ll soon learn that Korčula is essentially a small town, everyone knows everyone, and everyone has multiple side hustles in tourism.
Enjoy all the Grk wine
Seriously, you should try as much Grk as you can while in Korčula. Sure, because it’s a unique and delicious wine and only grows in Lumbarda, an emblem of Korčula island itself.
But also because as soon as you leave Korčula, Grk is hard to find — and when restaurants do have it, it’s often the most expensive Croatian wine on the menu. Eek! Enjoy it for cheap while you can!
Visit Konoba Mate for a Traditional Meal
Korčula has a lot of culinary traditions, and one of the best ways to experience that is to visit a traditional konoba, a simple tavern-like restaurant. I enjoyed visiting Konoba Mate in the village of Pupnat, which is known for incorporating Korčula’s delicious plants and produce into different country-style dishes.
This is a great place to try traditional hand-rolled pasta. We loved it so much we tried three kinds! Some of the standout dishes were the handmade pasta with almond pesto and cherry tomatoes, the braised veal cheeks with roasted garlic, and the laurel leaf mouse for dessert. I hadn’t even heard of laurel leaf before eating here!
Explore Small Town Wineries
If you limit yourself to Lumbarda’s (admittedly superb) wineries, you’ll be missing out on a lot of great wineries in Korčula! Head inland for more. Pošip tends to be the star varietal of the inland wineries, though they make a variety of whites, reds, roses, and even sweet wines.
I particularly recommend the town of Smokvica, home to Toreta Winery and Merga Victa Winery, both of which I enjoyed, as well as Winery Milina, Grošić Winery, and Didovinka Winery. Most of the time you can taste for free.
Have a Michelin-Starred Meal at LD Restaurant
If you’re looking for high-end, cutting-edge cuisine, served right in the Old Town while overlooking the blue water, LD Restaurant is worth your time. LD has a Michelin star — the only one on Korčula — and this is where I had one of my favorite meals in Croatia!
LD focuses on local, seasonal Dalmatian ingredients interpreted in new ways — and plated BEAUTIFULLY. That above dish is a repurposed vitello tonnato (a veal and tuna dish from Piemonte, Italy), with egg yolk and chimichurri. Another standout was sea bass in yellow curry with cauliflower and quinoa, and we loved ending with an affogato (espresso with vanilla ice cream — this one with almond and lemon zest) for dessert.
The food, the location — swoon-worthy. Pair your food with some Grk, of course.
Learn to Windsurf
Korčula is famously windy — especially its eastern end. These are perfect conditions for learning to windsurf! You can find courses in Korčula Town as well as Badija Island. Schools like Oreb Sailing and Korčula Sailing Extreme offer windsurfing lessons as well as sailing, kayaking, and SUP excursions.
(If you get bitten by the windsurfing bug, I recommend checking the town of Viganj, just across the water from Korčula on the Pelješac mainland. There is a huge windsurfing community there!)
Have Cocktails in a Tower at Massimo Cocktail Bar
Visiting Massimo Cocktail Bar was one of the highlights of my first trip to Korčula in 2012, and I knew I had to go back. This cocktail bar is in an insane location — on top of a tower in the city wall! The views over Pelješac are sensational, and it’s one of the most unique bar settings I’ve visited.
A few important things to know: you must climb a somewhat scary ladder to get to the top. You probably want to avoid wearing a skirt. Also, while it’s a cocktail bar, don’t expect craft cocktails. You’re best off sticking to the basics. And it’s a wind tunnel up there. Overall, I think Massimo is a good spot for one or two drinks; I don’t think you’d want to spend a whole evening up there.
A quick tip: while there are lots of small beaches around Korčula Town and Lumbarda, the best Korčula beaches are in the bays in the south of the island. This is something that Korčula locals told me over and over. These beaches require a bit of a trek by car, and sometimes it’s a bit of a hairy journey down steep, narrow and/or unpaved roads.
Are roads like that not your thing? That’s fine! Enjoy one of the easier-to-get-to beaches close to where you are. You can even go swimming right off the Old Town of Korčula, pictured above.
Pupnatska Luka Beach
Pupnatska Luka is one of the bay beaches on the southern coast, south of the town of Pupnat. This is one of the most lauded beaches in Korčula and once you get here, you’ll find chairs and umbrellas for rent and a few beach bars. There’s even a bar outpost of Konoba Mate! The beach is decently wide and you’ll probably have an easy time finding a spot.
I enjoyed the vibe of this beach — probably my favorite in Korčula.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Google Maps sent us here a very scary way, down a rocky unpaved road that felt like it was going to tear up the bottom of the car! But you can avoid this!
Take a look at Pupnatska Luka on Google Maps and zoom in. You’ll see one road leading out to the left and one road leading out to the right. The road on the right is the one you want. It’s paved and fine (though quite narrow at some stretches!).
Bačva Beach requires a similar journey to Pupnatska Luka’s — a curvy, switchbacky, zig-zaggy paved road leading down to the coast. But this one is smaller, more peaceful, and dare I say even more special than its neighbor.
You’ll park at a steep angle in the makeshift parking lot down by the beach, then walk down a long path. You know you’re in the right place when you see a small restaurant and a small, narrow beach with calm, clear water. Lots of families choose Bačva because the water is nice and calm. It’s more beautiful, but it being smaller meant that there wasn’t as much space to spread out.
Take in the View in Zavalatica
We ended up in the town of Zavalatica on a whim while exploring the island — but it turned into my favorite view of the trip! Zavalatica is a town on the southern coast of Korcula. As we drove in, we were struck speechless by this view.
Want to enjoy a bite with this view? We had lunch at Konoba Albert and enjoyed some nice fried calamari while taking in the blue-green ocean.
Have a Coffee in Vela Luka
Vela Luka is Korčula’s largest city, and this is where the larger car ferries from Split dock in Korčula. It’s located on the west coast of the island, about a 40-minute drive from Korčula Town. Vela Luka isn’t the most exciting place on the island, but I thought it was worth getting a coffee and taking a stroll around the harbor before moving on.
Try Croatian Craft Beer at Pinjac Pub
Tired of all the Korčula wine? NEVER! Well, if you’d rather have some beer, there is a lovely brewery and pub in the town of Žrnovo called Pinjac. They brew two beers and serve a variety of local cuisine, served in a beautiful indoor-meets-outdoor atmosphere. We enjoyed the tuna steak here.
Croatia is not nearly as beer-oriented as other Central European countries — there are fewer than 20 breweries in the whole country! Let’s hope Pinjac starts Korčula’s beer revolution.
Day Trips from Korčula
Is there any reason to leave Korčula while you’re there? Not really. There is enough on Korčula to keep you entertained for quite some time.
But if you’re spending a week or so based in Korčula, and it’s the only island getaway during your time in Croatia, you may want to see a bit more of the surrounding area.
There are two places I recommend visiting as a day trip from Korčula: Mljet and Pelješac.
Mljet is a gorgeous nature island and one of my favorite spots in Croatia. The western side of the island is home to Mljet National Park, filled with saltwater lakes and lush forests. And because Mljet lies just east of Korčula, it’s a very easy day trip to do.
On Mljet I recommend swimming in the saltwater lakes, visiting St. Mary’s Island in the lake, and exploring the small villages in the park. If you have the stamina to hike on a hot day, I recommend climbing to Montokuc, one of the highest points on the island with spectacular views (including the photo above). It’s about a 45-minute hike from the main parking lot in the national park.
You could do this as an independent day trip by taking the ferry from Korčula town in the morning to the town of Pomena, which is right on the edge of the national park. It’s a 30-minute journey. The ferry returns in the afternoon.
Pelješac (PELL-ee-yeh-shatz, or said quicker, simply PELL-eh-shatz), is the peninsula on the mainland just across from Korčula town. I spent a week in Pelješac recently and really enjoyed it — it’s a casual and unpretentious part of Dalmatia that not a lot of Americans visit, but Europeans know and love.
If you’re a wine fan in the least — and especially a red wine fan — you MUST visit Pelješac. They are home to the renowned Plavac Mali varietal of red wine, which also makes Postup and Dingač. Dingač is a truly special deep red wine. If you like Zinfandel or Primitivo, you will LOVE Dingač. My favorite Dingač is from Bartulović Winery in the tiny town of Prizdrina.
Beyond wine, Pelješac is home to the town of Ston, home to world-famous oysters and the longest stone wall in Europe (!), Viganj, a chilled out windsurfing town; and Divna Beach near Trpanj, quite possibly the most beautiful beach in Croatia. Pelješac is the kind of place where you drive the dramatic roads and stop wherever looks interesting.
You can visit Pelješac independently from Korčula. The ferry from Korčula Town to Orebić takes just 20 minutes. I recommend having a car to explore the peninsula and wineries (though of course, driving limits your ability to drink).
If you want to visit Pelješac independently from Korčula but don’t want to drive, I recommend taking the ferry to the mainland, then walking to Korta Katarina winery, about a 25-minute walk from the ferry port. They do a wonderful gourmet tasting and the setting is gorgeous.
If you’d rather have a guided tour, you can book an organized day trip to Pelješac from Korčula here.
Where to Stay in Korčula
Where’s the best place to stay in Korčula? Most travelers stay in Korčula Town, which is where you’ll find most of the activities on the island — but it’s not your only option.
If you’re only visiting Korčula for a few days, I recommend basing in Korčula Town, or possibly Lumbarda if you want a more relaxed experience. If you’ve got more time than that, consider spending a few nights elsewhere on the island to have a more well-rounded island escape.
Lumbarda and the rural countryside are solid options in addition to Korčula Town. I would skip Vela Luka; while it’s Korčula’s largest city, it’s not nearly as charming as other spots around the island.
Hotel Korčula de la Ville
I stayed at Hotel Korčula de la Ville, right in the heart of Korčula Town, which I loved. Korčula Tourism hosted us in this hotel for three nights, and it is exactly the kind of place I recommend to my readers! Safe, well-located, beautiful, tons of style, and surprising value for money.
Hotel Korčula de la Ville is the oldest hotel on the island, dating back 100 years. It’s grand and elegant, newly renovated, all shades of periwinkle and white. It’s located in the best place possible: right in the old town, overlooking the water. The terrace outside is a wonderful place to relax.
Ordinarily this would be considered a four-star hotel — but there’s no elevator. As a result, they can only consider themselves a three-star hotel and charge three-star prices. If you don’t mind walking up stairs (we were on the second floor European-style, or third floor American-style, and didn’t mind), it’s excellent value for money.
Breakfast is included, with spectacular morning views from the terrace, and they offer free parking right in the heart of Korčula Town. That is UNHEARD OF!
Rooms at Hotel Korčula de la Ville start at $85.
Stay in Lumbarda
An alternative to staying in Korčula Town is Lumbarda — a small town surrounded by the sea on three sides, filled with criss-crossing vineyards. Lumbarda is a short distance from Korčula Town — a 10-minute drive or short water taxi.
Lumbarda is where locals go when they want to get away. It’s home to beautiful beaches, excellent restaurants (that are cheaper than the ones in Korčula’s old town), and several top-notch wineries. It’s not completely unknown, but it doesn’t get nearly as many tourist crowds as Korčula Town.
If you’d like to spend time in a quieter, more relaxing town and have lots of beach time, Lumbarda is a great choice.
Stay in the Countryside
Another option is to stay somewhere in the countryside, which can show you the other side of island life (not to mention save money). We stayed in the town of Žrnovo, which is only five minutes outside Korčula Town, but felt a world away. We chose Žrnovo because it’s home to the Pinjac Brewery and we wanted to enjoy the beers without worrying about driving.
We stayed two nights at this comfortable, modern one-bedroom apartment and highly recommend it. Warning: if you leave the door open, Bobby the ginger cat will come in and make himself at home!
How to Get to Korčula
Korčula is an island without an airport, so the only way to get here is by ferry. But not all ferries go to Korčula Town, and not all ferries take cars. Take a look at the Jadrolinija and Krilo sites for a full listing of ferries and times.
How to Get to Korčula from Split
From Split, you can take the car ferry from to Vela Luka on the western end of Korčula (3.5 hours). From there you can drive to Korčula Town (40 minutes). Keep in mind that in Split’s ferry port this will be labeled “Vela Luka” and not “Korčula.”
How to Get to Korčula from Dubrovnik
There is a passenger-only catamaran that goes from Dubrovnik to Korčula Town (two hours).
If you want to have your car, drive to Orebić (two hours) and take the car ferry from there (20 minutes).
How to Get Around Korčula
Driving is the best way to get around Korčula by far. If you’re planning to explore beyond Korčula Town and Lumbarda, having a set of wheels is essential. If you arrive without a car, you can rent one — or, alternatively, rent a scooter.
There is limited public transportation system with buses that circle the island. See schedules on the Arriva website.
Finally, there’s the water taxi, which goes from Korčula Town to Badija to Vrnik to Lumbarda and back in reverse, which is a scenic way of getting to Lumbarda. You can buy a ticket at the water taxi station in Korčula Town.
Best Time to Visit Korčula
The best time to visit Korčula is September — plain and simple. That is what I recommend for the best time to visit Croatia as well. September is the sweet spot — you get summer weather, but the crowds have died down and the kids are back in school. Plus, the water is SO warm in September — you definitely don’t get that same effect in May! You could even try early October for similar results.
Korčula’s high season is during the summer months, with peak crowds and prices in July and August. Many activities in Korčula are only running during the summer months, so if you’re looking to enjoy the activities I wrote about in this post, June through September is your best bet.
Korcula has several food, wine, and music festivals that take place during the summer months.
Shoulder season, from April to May and from October to November, is an option for pleasant weather and smaller crowds, but know that some places will be closed ferries won’t run as often. Croatia’s Holy Week celebrations involve stunning processions — this can be a nice time to visit Korčula.
Much of Korčula shuts down in the winter months. I wouldn’t recommend visiting at this time unless you were coming to do nothing, like if you wanted a quiet place to write a book for a month or so.
Travel Insurance for Croatia
A lot of people don’t think it’s necessary to get travel insurance for Croatia — after all, it’s a safe country with decent healthcare. But you need it. If you get sick or injured on your trip, if you get robbed, or even if you have to be flown home, travel insurance will protect you from financial ruin. I use and recommend World Nomads for trips to Croatia.
I have thankfully never needed to call my travel insurance for help while in Croatia — but I do have a friend who had to visit the hospital after being stung by a wasp in Split, one who sprained her ankle after falling down the steps in Dubrovnik, and one who got her wallet stolen and needed to go to the police station.
While Croatia’s hospital prices aren’t anywhere near what the US would charge you, you could end up paying a lot of money for a serious medical issue. But travel insurance protects you and refunds you for your costs. It’s the kind of thing you don’t know you need until you need it. See if World Nomads is right for you here.
Korčula is waiting for you!
Korčula is a fantastic island — and it makes me so happy. I had the best time visiting Korčula this summer, and I’m proud to call it one of my favorite islands in the world. I can only hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.
Go to Korčula island, have a wonderful trip — then come back and tell me all about it.
More posts about Croatia:
Many thanks to Korčula Tourism, Hotel Korčula de la Ville, and Croatia Tourism for supporting this trip in part: three nights at Hotel Korčula de la Ville, our bike wine tour, a Korčula old town tour, one 24-hour water taxi ticket, two tickets to the Moreška sword dance, and meals at LD Restaurant and Konoba Mate. Everything else was done independently and paid out of pocket. All opinions, as always, are my own.
Have you been to Korčula? Have any tips? Share away!