We are a group of 6 traveling from Valencia to Barcelona to Cordoba to Granada to Malaga. Yes the trip is set in that order. Wondering if driving is the way to go with 6 people for the cost. We would rent a van if we go the car route-how are the streets-wide enough in the towns to drive and park a van? Where is the best place to pick up airport/train stations? Should we take the train for part of the trip drive for others? Any insight on driving as opposed to train would be appreciated. My husband has driven in many European countries and is a calm driver-his co-pilot not so much. :)
What city did you decide to fly into? That info might help others better answer your questions. I just got back from Andalusia. You do not need a car in Granada or Cordoba or Malaga. The old centers the areas you are going there to see are mostly pedestrian only on hills narrow winding not on a grid. You would need to rent cars to get to the charming white hill towns that do not have train service.
The AVE train will get you from Barcelona to Cordoba much, much faster than you can drive. I don't know about your other travel legs. Check driving times on ViaMichelin, understanding that they do not allow for stopping, getting lost, looking for parking, dealing with the car-rental agency, etc. Parking is a big deal and should be considered when you research lodging options.
For train times I find the Deutsche Bahn website easiest to use, but it won't give you fares. You can get train fares from Renfe or one of the rail websites that sells tickets for multiple countries at basically the standard price, like trainline.eu. Do not use RailEurope, which often doesn't display all the options and may assess significant extra fees.
I am flying into Valencia and out of Malaga. That's why I posted the above route with those as the starting and ending point.
It actually seems like a good route. Even large vehicles that seat 6 people comfortably have minimal luggage space. Look at the rental agencies - they give the number of passengers and luggage for each car. You probably won't need or want a car in any of your stops and you'll be paying for what could be expensive parking everywhere. You can get huge discounts on train tickets if you buy in advance. Renfe usually offers tickets 62 days in advance (though it's a little erratic, some trains may be available 3-4 months ahead, others only a couple of weeks). Their website is pretty easy once you get used to it. Most US credit cards don't work but you can use PayPal. With the exception of Granada, there are fast trains that will take you much less time than driving and the train is more comfortable. You can walk around, have a picnic meal, get a snack and coffee on board, use the toilet, plug in your electronics, or just enjoy the views. They've been upgrading the tracks to Granada for at least 3 years on a project that was supposed to take a few months. The trains only go as far as Antequera and then there's a seamless transfer to buses that go to the Granada train station, on the edge of the historic center. There are also buses from Cordoba. The journey time is about the same, the bus station in Granada is a bit farther out. When you consider the overall cost, including gas, tolls (if any) and parking, you may not save over discounted train tickets. viamichelin.com does a pretty good job of estimating costs (though not parking), for your chosen vehicle type. It will also give you estimated driving times and is more reliable than google maps.
As a follow on to what chani said, parking in or near any city center will generally cost between €15-€20 per day. There are some hotels with free parking, but those are few and far between. I always drive and pick up/drop off the rental at the airport. As already stated, for the places you’re going, you don’t need a car, so public transportation may be a better option.
15-20€ per day.... in Barcelona?? hahahahahahahahahaha....
Enric - Never had a car in Barcelona. Used public transportation on that trip. My range is from what I remember for Sevilla, Almeria, Santiago de Compostela, Burgos, Toledo, and Hondarribia. I do remember paying €25 per night in Madrid back in 2007. Either way, the OP will get the idea that parking isn’t inexpensive.
Parking Viajeros on Carrer de Carreras i Candi, in Barcelona, goes for only 28€ for 4 days (minimum stay). The parking is subterranean, with a guard, and the closest metro stops are L5 Badal and L1-L5 Mercat Nou. As in any big city in Spain, it's possible to find decently priced parking if you don't mind a small commute to the center, but in most cases a car is inadvisable in urban areas.