Worth some of the eye watering pricing.
The point has to be made immediately that Jernbanecafeen is not a dive bar, contrary to the typical locations reviewed here. And that’s an important distinction because a simple search of the internet for Copenhagen dive bars will inevitably lead to Jernbanecafeen. Upon rounding the corner just opposite Copenhagen’s main train station, it’s easy to see why Jernbanecafeen comes recommended.
The location couldn’t be more visually interesting, with the activity around the train station paired with the already well-trafficked Vesterbro neighborhood creating a people-watching situation hard to beat. Vibrant green paint pairs with equally vibrant red awnings to draw the eye immediately to Jernbanecafeen. An extensive set of outdoor tables brackets the front door, each ringed with uncharacteristically comfortable seats for urban outdoor drinking.
Tiny globe lights hang from the outdoor awnings and a pair of outdoor heaters create evening ambiance that only enhances an early evening view of the neighborhood. But even with the high bar set by the bar’s exterior, the interior blows that admittedly considerable bar away. While the pricing at Jernbanecafeen is what keeps it from being labeled a dive bar, the explosion of visual stimuli is certainly on par with any great dive. The walls, the ceiling, the seating, the bar, the beer selection, all of it is intense, almost staggering at first glance.
Jernbanecafeen translates to “the railway café” in English, though that information is quickly redundant with one look at the bar’s décor. Model train cars dominate the rear wall of the space, enshrined and lit up behind protective glass. Every bit of branded material within the bar, from the coasters to the glasses features some kind of railway image. And, of course, because there had to be, a model train track rings the front room with an active train upon it that runs back and forth along the wall.
The visual density of the space only intensifies from there, a tornado of Danish flags, birdhouses, metal signs, pictures of locals, paned lamps and small trains cut out of construction paper all hang from the ceiling. The tables that sit in the middle of the front room hold fresh and imitation flowers, safety candles and usually some other kind of accent piece. Red, cushioned benches line the area, complemented by pillows and broken up into distinct snugs. All of it is pulled together by the red carpeting throughout and even that only scratches the surface of the eye assault that takes place upon entry.
If the rest of the space is a tribute to trains and the color red, the bar itself is a shrine to beer, illuminated cases holding countless options behind the bar. The shelves that extend across the front wall of the building include, you guessed it, beer, as far as the eye is permitted to travel toward the bar’s back area. A step-up red cushioned seat accompanies the bar-side area, kind of an elevated platform presiding over the rest of the room. And of course there are taps, from Copenhagen staples like Carlsberg to less standard options.
Now if all of that came with any kind of affordable drinking option, then Jernbanecafeen could potentially fall into dive bar category, but in line with pricing throughout Copenhagen, the damage can be a bit steep to earn any kind of dive bar designation. At the end of the day, that’s an acceptable trade off for what Jernbanecafeen offers, which is a dazzling visual display, immense beer selection and prime urban location in a fun part of Copenhagen to happily invest a handful of drinking hours.