Alvar Aalto Kymenlaakso Cycling Route

Kymenlaakso is the single region in Finland with the most buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. If Jyväskylä is called the Aalto capital, Kymenlaakso can rightly be called the Aalto region. In total, Kymenlaakso has dozens of buildings designed by Alvar Aalto: detached houses, apartment buildings and blocks of flats, as well as industrial plants.

On the cycle route you can discover Alvar Aalto’s architecture of the 1930s-1950s in Karhula, Sunila, Hamina and Inkeroinen.

Most of the buildings designed by Alvar Aalto were placed freely in the landscape, taking into account the shapes of the terrain. As a result, the connection to nature is a natural continuum for the views of the houses and apartments. Nature, light and their connection to the dwellings were important to Aalto. The overall architectural approach and the typical elements of Aalto’s formal language are repeated in all the Aalto projects in Kymenlaakso.

Aalto succeeded in adapting his buildings to nature and adding both creativity and artistry to their austere simplicity, and even today people are still attracted to Aalto buildings.

A tourist interested in architecture, history and design can easily spend several days exploring the buildings designed by Alvar Aalto, but also stay overnight in apartments designed and decorated in his style.

There are 4 areas on this route with buildings designed by Aalto:

Inkeroinen factory area

The buildings designed by Alvar Aalto for the Inkeroinen Factory Hill were completed between 1937 and 1956. The complex consists of factory buildings, semi-detached houses on the Rantalinja, terraced houses on the Tervalinja, three detached houses, three blocks of flats, a school on the Tehtaanmäki and detached houses on the Karhunkangas.

Hamina Petkele residential area

In Hamina, you can discover the environment of the Summa paper mill designed by Alvar Aalto and the housing designed by him for the paper mill workers and management in the Petkele residential area.

Apartment buildings in Karhula

Alvar Aalto’s design in Karhula is represented by the apartment buildings completed on Karhunkatu between 1945 and 1947, known as the ‘tennis houses’.

Sunila factory and working-class housing area

Alvar Aalto’s handiwork is immediately recognisable from the moment you arrive in the extensive and coherent residential area. The factory, completed in 1938, and the adjacent residential area, originally built between 1937 and 1939, form a whole whose design clearly shows the influence of Alvar Aalto’s 1930s modernism.

For more details and directions see the route in Outdoor Active

By Visit Kotka-Hamina

Lahti and Jyväskylä – Aalto and Saarinen architectural path

In Lahti and Jyväskylä, Alvar Aalto and Eliel Saarinen’s architectural masterpieces are on vivid display.

Begin your journey in Lahti and encounter Aalto’s tranquil mastery at the Church of the Cross, resonating with spiritual harmony, and Saarinen’s meticulous Art Nouveau in Lahti City Hall. In Jyväskylä, see Aalto’s Muuratsalo Experimental House and Säynätsalo Town Hall, culminating in a comprehensive experience of Finnish architectural heritage. This tour weaves through the legacy of two Finnish greats, their distinctive yet complementary styles forming a rich tapestry of design right in the middle of Finland. Each structure narrates a tale of architectural evolution, challenging and reshaping your perceptions, leaving a lasting impression of their transformative influence.

Säynätsalo Town Hall – live-in architectural heritage

Explore this architectural gem where Aalto’s vision of form and function is realised in each minute detail.

This tour offers more than a simple walkthrough—it invites you to stay and soak in the community spirit that the building embodies. As you explore this space, you have the unique opportunity to extend your
visit with an overnight stay, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the unflustered landscape that inspired Aalto’s design and experience the communal essence of the thinking behind his designs.

Tour in brief: Join us at the Säynätsalo Town Hall, a cherished historical gem reflecting Alvar Aalto’s brilliance. Uncover the stories and facts of Alvar and Elissa Aalto during our guided tour, which is
suitable for all ages and backgrounds.

Why not extend the experience with an overnight stay? That way, you can create an even deeper connection with this iconic masterpiece and live like a local in our warm, inviting atmosphere.

Artisans and Aalto retreat in Raseborg

Retreat to the picturesque Raseborg, where architecture and artisanry coalesce with the splendour of nature.

Begin your escape in the coastal charm of Ekenäs, witnessing Alvar Aalto’s smallscale architectural wonders like Villa Skeppet. Then, journey to the historic Fiskars Village, a cradle of Finnish art and design. Here, amidst the legacy of ironworks, discover the vibrancy of local craft, and let each boutique and
workshop unveil a story of tradition and innovation. This retreat is an invitation to experience the integration of creativity and natural beauty.

Tour in brief: Redesign your retreat with Raseborg’s unique blend of Alvar Aalto’s architecture, local art, and crafts. Day one immerses you in Ekenäs’ architectural treasures like Villa Skeppet, Chappe and local culinary delights. Day two invites you to the artistic Fiskars Village, a historic ironworks site now bustling with workshops and boutiques.

Seaside museums – Architecture, art and home museums by the sea!

A self-guided museum tour around the Laajalahti bay, outside the usual tourist routes, reveals seven unique museum sites that can be experienced together or separately. In addition to the scenic surroundings, the sites are united under interesting architecture and the fact that they have originally been homes and / or workspaces. The Didrichsen Art Museum, Villa Gyllenberg and Gallen-Kallela museums also feature significant art collections and changing exhibitions.

In Alvar Aalto’s home and office building in Munkkiniemi you can take part in guided tours all year round. Aficionados of architecture and design will get an insight into the interesting life of the Aalto family and everyday life of architects’ office. During the visit, you can also explore the beautiful gardens surrounding the buildings.

On a guided tour in Tamminiemi you will learn about the house’s most famous and longest-lived inhabitant: president Urho Kekkonen (1900–1986), and discover the original interiors and design from the 1970s. Tamminiemi’s legendary tar-smelling, seaside sauna can also be visited during the summer season.

The nearby Seurasaari open-air museum comes alive in the summer. The beautiful and fascinating traditional Finnish buildings, immersed into the magnificent natural setting of the island, constitute a favourite destination for both Helsinki locals and travellers around.

There are as many as two high-quality art museums on the small Kuusisaari island. The Didrichsen Art Museum has 2-3 changing exhibitions each year. The neighbouring Villa Gyllenberg features museum’s permanent collection which includes, amongst other masterpieces, 38 works by Helene Schjerfbeck. In addition, the museum also organises changing exhibitions. On Saturdays during the summer, Kuusisaari can be reached also by water bus running between Market Square in the city centre and Kuusisaari.

The northern shore of Laajalahti bay also offers exciting museum experiences, as well as a pleasant museum café where visitors can spend a relaxing moment. The Gallen-Kallela Museum, located in a castle-like villa designed by artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, presents the art and life of Gallen-Kallela and his contemporaries with changing exhibitions, as well as exhibitions of contemporary art. From April you can also cycle to the museum on a city bike.

Homes and habitats by Alvar Aalto

Villa Mairea in Noormarkku, Kauttua Terraced house and Paimio Sanatorium remain as homes, where everyday life merges with architecture and iconic design furniture. Well-being stems from the pine forests and riverside sauna. Set out to experience living as envisioned by Alvar Aalto!

This tour in the South West Finland takes you back in time and presents you the masterpieces of modern architecture. At the Paimio Sanatorium you can learn about Aalto’s modernist ideas healthy environments, at Kauttua you can see the Terraced house, that Aalto designed for residential use.

Villa Mairea presents you the beautiful private home of timeless decor. In the historical Noormarkku and Kauttua Works of the Ahlström company you can enjoy the picturesque milieu and learn about the history of Finnish woodworking industry.

Delicious lunch and dinner are served at authentic locations. There is also a possibility to bathe in the riverside sauna, a building designed by Aalto.

Wood, Water & Workshop in Kouvola

Experience the industrial Tehtaanmäki and create your own mindscape. The tour takes you to the Ankkapurha Cultural Park, besides the foams of the River Kymijoki and the Tehtaanmäki residential area. At the Art Centre Antares in the countryside sceneries of Sippola the tour culminates into a workshop and exhibition. On this tour, you can be inspired by the layers of history and create something new of your experiences.

The tour takes you to the industrial community at Tehtaanmäki and presents you the residential area designed by Alvar Aalto. The region is filled with history of the woodworking industry from the 1870s onwards. Tehtaanmäki contains the traditional and the modern – Aalto was hired in the 1930s to design the Anjala Paper Mill and homes for the mill workers. A new type of working-class world was created: verdant and communal area built near the river, providing a setting for housing, school, interests and work.

You will be guided through the residential area, where the houses are still used for their original purpose. The Anjala Paper Mill Aalto designed is also in operation. After the tour we take a boat trip along the River Kymijoki and have a cup of coffee served beside campfire. Accommodation takes place on the grounds of an old manor. In the evening you can relax in sauna by the river.

On the second day, it is your turn! You will be taken to an art workshop at the local Art Center Antares nearby. Interpretate all what you have seen and experienced, in your way and personal style.