The area is a tourist destination known for its natural environment, historic buildings, fishing hamlets, small towns and farmland.
The name derives from its location 'the way eastwards' (ancient route from Ystad, heading north-east); (len is short for leden, i.e. route).In the past, the area west of Ystad was called "Västerlen" (the way westwards) but that term is no longer in use. The descriptive term Österlen is associated with the writings of Nils Lovén (1796–1858) who was a clergyman and university professor as well as an author and the ethnologist Nils Gustaf Bruzelius who claimed that it was a well-known fact that people from Österlen and people from Västerlen were always at loggerheads and were of very different natures. Bruzelius also considered the usage of the term "Österlen" as "ancient.". 
Use of the term Österlen was popularized during the 1920s by author Fritiof Nilsson Piraten (1895–1972), poet Pehr Theodor Tufvesson (1884–1947) and newspaper journalist John Oskar Osterman (1871–1942). Many songs and poems have been written about Österlen. One of the most popular songs is Om himlen och Österlen, composed by Scanian singer-songwriter Michael Saxell.  
Österlen was defined in 1929 as including Albo härad, Ingelstad härad and Järrestad härad in the southeastern part of the Scania. Today the term is associated with Tomelilla Municipality, Ystad Municipality and Simrishamn Municipality. Österlen encompasses the cities of Simrishamn and Tomelilla as well as including Stenshuvud National Park.
Historical buildings and places
Historical buildings in Österlen include the medieval castle Glimmingehus, St. Nicholas Church in Simrishamn, known since the 12th century, and the medieval St. Olof Church. Ale's Stones near Kåseberga on the south coast and The King's Grave in Kivik are ancient historical monuments.
Cultural events and festivals
- Jöran Sahlgren; Gösta Bergman (1979). Svenska ortnamn med uttalsuppgifter (in Swedish). p. 30.
- "Österlen". Visit Skåne. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- Southeast Visit Skåne
- Allmogelifwet i Ingelstads härad i Skåne under slutet af förra och början af detta århundrade: kulturbild, Malmö 1876
- "Wallander's Ystad". visitsweden.com. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- Åke K G Lundquist. "Nils Lovén". Svenskt biografiskt lexikon. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- "Om Piraten". piratensallskapet.se. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- Svensk biografisk handbok. "Tufvesson, Pehr Theodor". Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- roxetteblog.com. "Michael Saxell – a man behind Christoffer Lundquist's album". Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- "Stenshuvud National Park". naturvardsverket.se. Archived from the original on April 4, 2009. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- History About Österlen
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Österlen.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Österlen.|