With climate change impacts being felt across Europe, governments have started to invest in designing and implementing adaptation actions. The means through which governments adapt is generally referred to as policy instruments. Although there is a large body of adaptation policy literature emerging, our comprehensive understanding of policy instruments is limited nor do we know much about how scholarship on adaptation is addressing critical questions about policy instrument choice and effectiveness to support policy practice. In this article we map academic scholarship on climate change adaptation policy instruments in Europe. Using systematic approaches, we identify 184 relevant articles published 2014–2019. Our findings show that research is heavily concentrated on a limited number of western-European countries, with hardly any insights from eastern Europe and smaller countries. Most studies do not connect climate change impacts and risks with policy instruments, making assessment of policy effectiveness difficult, if not impossible. We argue that expanding the geographical scope of future research and enhancing the diversity of study types across Europe is critical for advancing theories on climate change adaptation policy, as well as providing useful recommendations for policy makers to strengthen the solution space and accelerate climate change adaptation.