Alto's Adventure is an endless runner about a snowboarder going down an endless mountain, similar to Ski Safari. Alto is the protagonist and his llamas have escaped from the top of the mountain. He picks up his snowboard and goes after them to bring them back. He goes down the mountain automatically and the player only interacts by tapping. This is done to jump over rocks, cross gaps, grind on lines and so on.
By tapping and holding while in the air a backflip is performed. When completed successfully a speed boost is earned and this is sometimes required to cross certain gaps. Grinding also provides this boost and in addition the boost makes his scarf longer and provides a temporary shield that can for instance be used to dash through rocks. Along the way coins can be collected as well as llamas, adding up to the same total. Tricks can be combined into combos. After crashing, a run ends right away, unless these coins are spent or the player watches a video advertisement. Apart from that there are no other advertisements and no in-app purchases at all.
Each run has a procedurally generated environment based around different themes and times of day. Goals can be completed permanently to move on to new challenges, such as jumping, bouncing or smashing rocks, spooking birds, jumping ramp kickers and so on. Sometimes power-ups can be found such as a coin magnet, a hover feather, a wingsuit and a llama horn. The coins can be used in the workshop to upgrade the effectiveness of these power-ups several times. Next to the main challenge mode there is a zen mode with no score or distractions. A photo mode can be activated to take and share pictures.