“This is a company town,” the hotel desk attendant in Erlangen, Germany told me. “People here either work for the company or its suppliers.” As I wandered the quaint streets and explored local life in Erlangen, Germany, I noticed they were all related to the company in some way. My hotel on Werner von Siemens Strasse was no exception.
But while the Siemens company dominates this town in the Franconia Valley in both size and importance, Erlangen is also home to an important medical university: The Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. The students gather on the lawns of the Schloss Garden to read or play sports (soccer and a form of tight-rope walking between trees seem to be the favorites). The divided sidewalks throughout town give the right-of-way to bicycles and you need to be careful not be run over by the two-wheel terrors.
Life in Erlangen, Germany takes on a slow pace. Time just seems to move slowly here. Given the local university and an international population, there are restaurants in town from all over the world, but Italian cuisine seems to be particularly popular here. Long, relaxed lunches and protracted dinners are the norm in Erlangen. The days are filled with the tranquil atmosphere of a slower life in Erlangen.
Despite being a workaday factory town that was essentially obliterated in World War II, there is still a charm here. Sure, Erlangen lacks the medieval charms of neighboring Nuremberg or Bamberg, but its uniqueness comes through in the small details found in the corners of this town. We found some older appearing buildings in Erlangen, but one of them had a corner stone from 1952.
For tourists and visitors, there aren’t many things to do in Erlangen, Germany. The one real highlight in town is the Siemens MedMuseum (Siemens Unternehmensmuseum für Medizinische Technik). While owned and operated by the company, the MedMuseum really is the history of medicine and medical innovation.
However, Erlangen, Germany is perhaps best known for the International Beer Festival (known as the Bergkirchweih) which takes place every Pentecost. Obviously not as well known as as Oktoberfest in Munich, the Erlangen International Beer Festival has existed since 1755 and is for serious beer aficionados. For the 12-day festival, it is one of Europe’s open-air beer gardens for over 12,000 people and receives over a million visitors per year.
Life here is positively bucolic. Visiting this little town in Franconia is less about the things to do in Erlangen than it is about experiencing the daily life in Erlangen.