Urbanisation patterns in Europe since the 1950s have resulted in a swath of low-density discontinuous development, commonly called peri-urban areas. These areas are characterised by a mixed rural-urban character, are highly dynamic in nature, and are expected to continue growing rapidly in the next few decades. This paper presents a systematic review of the literature on changes in peri-urban areas in Europe. We analysed 142 cases from 121 studies that are spread across Europe, representing a wide range of peri-urban processes. Land cover changes were the most reported changes, followed by socioeconomic changes, land use changes, planning process changes, land management changes, and environmental changes. Over half of the cases reported co-occurring land-cover and socioeconomic processes of change. In addition, we analysed sequential and causal relations between these processes. In this analysis we found that peri-urbanization cannot be conceptualized as driver – land change – impact, because often relations between processes pointed in different directions. Therefore, we characterize peri-urbanization as a multifaceted process that can manifest itself differently in different case study areas. In addition, we found that planning precedes land change processes about as often as it follows these processes, illustrating the specific challenge for planners and policy makers in managing peri-urban areas.