For the 'real Russia', look no further than the country's pleasant provincial towns. Life here is decidedly languorous, and you'll see how the vast majority of the Russian population lives - a far cry from their cosmopolitan St Petersburg cousins.
The Finnish-Russian border town of Vyborg (p227) has a mixed history, having been passed between Russia and Finland constantly throughout its history. It's a run-down but charming town with cobblestone streets, a rich architectural heritage and a fascinating 13th-century Swedish fortress. While it's not
Valaam & Sortavala (p231)
Sos novo i
>e ivo mays koe
To Petrozavodsk (WQkm);
Nov ay; Ladogc
GULF OF FINLAND
Jelishche i To I mach ovo lOredezh
° typically Russian, due to its strong Scandi-navian influence, it has plenty to offer for an 5- enjoyable day trip.
o gion of Karelia is a unique destination, filled with birch forests, inland lakes and historic architecture. Karelia is tucked between Europe's two biggest lakes, Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega. The former is the site of the age-old town of Staraya Ladoga (p229), as well as the stunningValaam Monastery (p231); while the latter contains an island called Kizhi (p231), home to a fantastic architectural museum. Kizhi is accessible from Petrozavodsk (p230), the economic and cultural capital of Karelia.
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