Although spatial planning is considered as crucial for climate change adaption, e.g. in the EU White Paper on Adaptation, there are uncertainties regarding the role of adaptation strategies in spatial planning practices. In this paper the potential role of spatial planning for climate change adaption is investigated by distinguishing between two adaptation strategies: avoidance and minimisation. A case study in Stockholm, Sweden, serves to analyse the implementation of these ways of adaptation in the strategic and detailed planning stages. Spatial planning documents reveal a mix of avoidance and minimisation strategies. Expert interviews were used for further analyses of the spatial planning processes around these documents. It was found that minimisation measures prevail, and that only under extraordinary circumstances, avoidance measures could be implemented. A conclusion is that a more prominent focus on avoidance measures is needed to utilise the full potential of spatial planning and to ensure more robust adaptation measures. In order to achieve this, a normative adaption hierarchy is proposed as a guiding spatial planning principle in decision making about adaptation to the effects of climate change.