European Destnations of Excellence (EDEN), is a project promoting sustainable tourism development models across the European Union. The project is based on national competitions that take place every year and result in the selection of a tourist “destination of excellence” for each participating country. Through the selection of destinations, EDEN effectively achieves the objective of drawing attention to the values, diversity and common features of European tourist destinations. It enhances the visibility of emerging European destinations, creates a platform for sharing good practices across Europe and promotes networking between awarded destinations.

This European quest for excellence in tourism is developed around an annual theme, chosen by the Commission together with Member States and Candidate Countries. The relevant tourism bodies implement the projects at a national level. The annual themes so far were as follows; Best Emerging Rural Destination, Tourism and Intangible Heritage, Tourism and Protected Areas and Aquatic Tourism. The key feature of the selected destinations is their commitment to social, cultural and environmental sustainability. The recipients of the award are emerging; little known European destinations located in the 27 Member States and candidate countries.

Winner in the ‘Health and wellbeing tourism’ category
Żejtun (traditionally known as Citta’ Beland), takes its name from the olive.  It is situated on the top of a hill, that dominates the nearby bays of Marsaxlokk, St Thomas and Marsascala, popular ports of call for all Mediterranean sailors since Phoenician times. They also provided convenient landing beaches for invaders. Hence the location was important as a lookout post for any approaching shipping. Archaeological remains indicate that the area around Żejtun was already inhabited in Punic and Roman times, when the bay of Marsaxlokk was an important port of call both for import and export.  Żejtun has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty and historical and cultural heritage.  The local council of Żejtun organises various open streets festivals that promote health and well-being and provide entertaining activities for all, adding to Żejtun as a relaxing destination that benefits mind and body alike.

What makes Żejtun special

The origins of Żejtun go back to Phoenician and Roman times and it offers a wealth of historical heritage being one of the oldest cities in the south of Malta. Żejtun always served as a place of relaxation and different Grand Masters of the Order of St John, bishops and notable citizens chose Żejtun to build their summer residence in the countryside.  Żejtun is still a one of the best destinations for relaxation and well-being activities as it is surrounded with countryside and is ideal for walks and agritourism.  The combination of beautiful natural surroundings and cultural and historical attractions makes Żejtun an outstanding destination.

Health and wellbeing tourism

The village of Żejtun has a long and distinguished history and has archaeological remains that testify to its ancient past as well as lovely churches and graceful palaces, townhouses, and gardens.  It is set in beautiful countryside, close to charming beaches and fishing villages.  The setting provides plenty of opportunity for restful activities and more active pastimes.  There is free access to the skatepark and open and indoor gyms and council premises for yoga, pilates, marital arts and judo, talks, seminars and courses about healthy lifestyles.  Art and culture activities such as singing, poetry and painting are also organised by the local council.  Take part in the renowned night meditation tour, illuminated by candles.  The Open Streets for sport activities are also popular and open to all who want to join in.  

Żejtun is a village which is mostly renowned for its agrarian activity and is not one of the most visited destinations despite its historical, cultural, and natural attractions.  The destination offers authentic tourism experiences because it integrates tourism with the village life, its Open Streets activities and walks, as well as cultural activities in which tourists and locals all freely participate and mingle.

Sightseeing tips

  • Żejtun’s old Parish Church of St Catherine, originally dating back to 1200, with a statue of of St Gregory and a front area including several palaces, chapels and elegant houses.
Church of St Catherine, Żejtun - Wikipedia
  • Take a walk down to one of the South East of Malta picturesque rocky beaches, namely St Thomas Bay, St Peter’s Pool, Kalanka Bay and Xrobb l-Ghagin Bay. 
St. Thomas Bay, Marsaskala, Malta
  • Try one of the walking or cycling routes, via the free heritage maps (download or physical) with signposts containing QR codes for an interactive tour.
Zejtun
  • The Lieutenant’s Garden, a botanical garden known as Gnien il-Kmand, built in 1802 by the British High Commissioner. Today, the Żejtun garden is open to the public as Luqa Briffa Garden

More information

Credits to: https://www.visitmalta.com/en/eden ; https://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/tourism/eden/destinations/malta_en

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