Alto's Adventure is a side-scrolling endless runner snowboarding game. The player character moves automatically through procedurally generated landscapes towards the right side of the screen, and the player can only control when to jump. The player taps the screen once to jump and holds the screen while the player character is midair to perform tricks. While the character moves across the landscape, the player can complete some of the game's 180 goals, though they are given only three at a time. Goals include such things as travelling a set distance, rescuing runaway llamas, crossing dangerous gaps, grinding across rooftops of villages, and outsmarting the mountain elders.
The player receives awards from completing goals, and can also collect coins that can be used to purchase upgrades. Players perform tricks in quick succession, or combos, to earn points towards a competitive high score. The game also tracks distance travelled and trick combos. Later in the game, players can use a wingsuit, which changes some elements of the game. The environments of Alto's Adventure change in lighting as time passes through the cycle of the day, and incorporate various weather effects. Player progress syncs between iPads and iPhones over iCloud, and the game uses Game Center leaderboards.