|Subject: Re: Italian Lake District|
I read all the questions you have about travelling from Zurich to Lugano/Locarno area and I'm happy to answer some of your questions.
For the train trip from Zurich Airport to Lugano you do no need to make any seat reservation unless you travel on a weekend in July/August or you choose to reach Lugano taking the Cisalpino. Usually when you arrive at Zurich Airport it takes more or less 1 hour till you get from the terminal to the railway station (custom clearance and luggage pick up).
The trains going to Lugano or Locarno leave from the airport at 43 past the hour. You will need to change train at Zurich Main Station. I suggest to take a train which leaves from Zurich Main Station at odd departure times (09.09 or 11.0, etc.9) so you do not need to change trains in Arth Goldau but you can remain seated till Lugano.
To get from the Aiport to Zurich there are trains about every 10 minutes. The trip is also about 10 minutes.
There are luggage lockers at Zurich Mainstation (Price CHF 5.00) but if you travel with a bigger suitcase it won't fit in it. There is a luggage storage near track 18 which is open till 11.00 p.m (if I'm right you pay CHF 7.00/luggage).
If you have heavy luggage I suggest to check it in at the airport railway station. They will transport it for you to Lugano/Locarno. This service costs CHF 20.00 per luggage. The only thing about this is that your suitcases arrive 1 day later to your destination.
There is absolutely no problem in carrying your luggage with you on the train. (no security checks . at least up to now)
Lugano - Locarno
The best way is to take the train. There are trains every 30 minutes and you change either in Bellinzona or in Giubiasco. The whole trip takes form 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Locarno - Baveno/Stresa
If you like to visit the "Isole Borromee" I suggest you stay in Stresa which is much prettier than Baveno. You can get there by boat (it's about a 3 hours ride) or also by train. First you need to take a smaller train which goes from Locarno to Domodossola. From there you have a connection to Stresa. The trip is very very nice because you cross a narrow valley. The view is fantastic.
Unfortunately I've never been there but I can ask my mother in law if she has some nice recommendations. I'll revert.
I think 1 night in Como is enough. The town is nice but it does not have too many attractions. You should spend the other nights in Bellagio.
To get back form there to Zurich you just head into Como again and form there you have trains going to Zurich.
I know there are different passes but I'm not familiar with the details. The staff at the Airport Railway station is very friendly and helpful. You just need to tell them what your plans are and they will offer the best solutions for your trips
If you also need hotel/restaurant suggestions for Locarno or Lugano feel free to ask.
I wish you a wonderful trip
Regards, Cornelia Minusio (near Locarno), Switzerland