9 Must-See Castles - NBC Southern California

Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany

How do you deal with loss? Sometimes you just have to build a bridge and get over—or in this case, a castle fit for a king. After his land was conquered by Prussia in the late nineteenth century, Bavarian King Ludwig II ordered the construction of this Romanesque Revival palace. In the midst of the majestic Alps, with glorious towers and turrets, Neuschwanstein (meaning “new swan stone”) is the quintessential castle you’d find in a fairytale. And apparently Walt Disney thought so as well—his visit to Neuschwanstein inspired the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland!

Hohensalzburg Castle, Austria

In Salzburg, it’s hard to miss the grand Hohensalzburg—one of the biggest medieval fortresses in Europe. Sitting on the summit of Festungsberg, this enthralling structure has been a staple of ‘the city of Mozart’ for more than 900 years. Go up by foot or train, and get a taste of the royal life with the castle’s beautifully furnished chambers, romantic courtyards, and its Romanesque chapel. Today, Hohensalzburg is home to museums, including the Fortress Museum and the Marionette Musuem, as well as concerts.

Alcázar of Segovia, Spain

Beautiful and multi-functional—the Alcázar of Segovia has historically served as a royal palace, a prison, and a military academy. With Gothic, Romanesque and Moorish influences, the structure is an architectural melting pot resting on the Segovia hilltops. Here, you can explore the two main courtyards, the notable ‘Hall of Kings,’ and of course, the scenic views of the Spanish countryside. If the magic in the air feels familiar, it’s probably because this magnificent site apparently inspired Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World.

Carcassonne, France

What’s better than a fortified castle? A fortified city. Located in the south of France, the hilltop town of Carcassonne has been historically embraced for its strategic location—by the Romans, the Visigoths, and the Crusaders. This city is everything that comes to mind when someone says ‘medieval’ times: a perimeter wall, tall towers and barbicans, a Basicalla with stained-glass windows. Even Hollywood couldn’t resist it; its famous citadel, Cité de Carcassonne, was used in the filming of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Windsor Castle, London

The Queen will see you now. As the British family’s royal residence in Berkshire, this stunning castle is the longest-occupied castle in Europe. You’ll be enchanted by the palace’s architectural influences—Georgian, Victorian, Gothic, the lavish staterooms, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, and the lively ‘Changing the Guard’ ceremony. Visiting this remarkable site is not only a peek into the past, but also the present—the Queen spends her weekends here and often hosts State Visits at Windsor Castle, making this a working palace.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel

Now, you may not be able to stay in any of the castles mentioned above, but there is one place where you and your kids feel like royalty. At LEGOLAND’s Castle Hotel, located right at LEGOLAND’s entrance, you can build your adventure, choosing from one of the themed-rooms ‘Knights and Dragons, ‘Royal Princess,’ and ‘Magic Wizards.’ With LEGO building stations in every room, an Entertainment Courtyard, and LEGO décor throughout the hotel, your family won’t get anything short of the royal treatment this summer. We’re sure even Queen Elizabeth would be jealous…

Bran Castle, Romania

Quench your thirst for adventure and intrigue at Bran Castle, also commonly known as Dracula’s Castle. This gothic fortress is rumored to be home of the fictitious, bloodthirsty Transylvanian Count (although people argue this, as Dracula author Bram Stoker never visited Romania). Today, the castle holds a museum dedicated to Queen Marie of Romania.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Since the mid-13th century, this gorgeous castle has been built and re-built to look the way it does today. Located in Highland, on a small tidal island (at the meeting point of three sea lochs) and surrounded by picturesque scenery, Eilean Donan is an icon of Scottish imagery. Since the castle’s restoration, it has more of a 20th century feel to it. Walk over from the mainland on a footbridge and explore the wonders of Scottish history.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

You won’t have to stray far from Edinburgh to see one of Scotland’s most famous sites. The impressive Edinburgh Castle is just at the top of Castle Rock, and it comes with a vast history of perseverance. The fortress, built in the 12th century, has been tried and tested many times—making it the “most besieged place in Great Britain.”

LEGO City Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride

For the first time this summer, dive into a vibrant, underwater world with LEGO City’s newest ride! Hop aboard a real submarine to explore a variety of sea life—thousands of real sea animals including fish, stingrays, and sharks—and discover hidden treasures lost in the depths of the sea. Using interactive touchscreens inside the sub, you’ll guide the LEGO dive team in finding various gems, pearls, and gold coins on this aquatic adventure. Are you up to the task?