My family and I will be in Andalucia in December, over Christmas. Debating if it is worthwhile to get a car to explore the small towns between Granada and Sevilla. Thoughts?
Definitely worth your time to get a rental car. We did this exact route 2 years ago. We got the car in Seville at the train station and were able to get out of the city relatively easy, heading southeast on A-376 which quickly turns to wide open and uncrowded roads once away from Seville. Road surfaces were fantastic, and signage was great. We spent 2 nights in Ronda, after stopping off at the tiny town of Zahara de La Sierra for lunch and wonderful views over the lake. The scenery is fantastic, and the driving easy. After Ronda we spent an entire day driving to Granada through picturesque white villages and dropped the car off at the Granada airport.
That's a tough one! We didn't spend too much time in small villages except just passing through, or having lunch, except for Alhama de Granada. Our cycling was based from there for several nights and we really liked the town. Small and had a nice square with a couple of restaurants and a great bar for tapas called "El Tigre". It's on a scenic gorge and has a good vibe to it with friendly locals we thought.
Agree with Ed2000. There are so many beautiful villages in the area that it is tough to nail it down to one. Our favorites were Frigiliana, Olvera and Zahara de la Sierra. Don't miss the cities Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada, they are all awesome with a lot of good sites. Definitely get a car, driving around the area is fairly easy. Have fun, you will enjoy it!
Maybe it is too late to respond, but just in case, let me share my experience.
I actually visited Granada from Seville by train in one day (~6 am departure, ~9 pm back to Seville). It was enough time for visiting Alhambra and Generalife without any rush, but no time for looking around Albaicin or other part of Granada. Be sure to reserve Alhambra ticket well in advance through online and be there at the designated time.
I rented a car for one day in Seville (~8 am to ~8 pm-ish... can't remember exact time, but it was one day rental) (just like Ed4000, rented a car at the Seville Train Station). Just like Ed4000, took 376 and drove around the area visiting many fascinating white villages. "My own" score is Zahara de la Sierra (4.5 stars out of 5), Olvera (3.5), Sentenil de la Bodegas (4.5), Ronda (5), Gaucin (3.5), and Arcos de la Frontera (4). I know.... it may be a bit too much in too short time, but that's certainly my travel style. Don't get me worng, I was able to have enough time in Ronda, Sentenil de la Bodegas and Arcos de la Frontera, but in other towns, I visited major spots of the town, took pictures and moved on.
Ronda is hands down the best town in Andalucia. You may want to read my post about Ronda's Puente Nuevo and how to get to the best photogenic spot (it is a bit complex).
If you go to Ronda, I strongly recommend "De Locos Tapas" for authentic and most incredible tapas experience. More than 3 and a half years passed, but I still vividly remember taste, ambience and service. Just hope that I can go visit Ronda again sometime in the future...
We haven't been to Spain yet, but in my experiences in other countries in Europe, the small towns are the best places to explore! Have fun on your trip :)
Just make sure to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) before leaving U.S. It is a requirement for driving in Spain.