Like Ålanders and Sámi in northern Lapland, Karelians see themselves as a distinct cultural group. You’ll see that on the streets of this small town, which refers to itself by the Russian pogost (village) rather than Finnish kylä (village). Ilomantsi is the closest town to the border, has an Orthodox religion and even speaks its own dialect. The town itself has some unusual and worthwhile sights, but with no worthwhile accommodation and few eating options it makes a poor base. Better to head for the farmhouses, national parks and scenic areas round about once you’ve ticked off the town.