Archaea have evolved fascinating surface structures allowing rapid adaptation to changing environments. The archaeal surface appendages display such diverse biological roles as motility, adhesion, biofilm formation, exchange of genetic material and species-specific interactions and, in turn, increase fitness of the cells. Intriguingly, despite sharing the same functions with their bacterial counterparts, the assembly mechanism of many archaeal surface structures is rather related to assembly of bacterial type IV pili. This review summarizes our state-of-the-art knowledge about unique structural and biochemical properties of archaeal surface appendages with a particular focus on archaeal type IV pili-like structures. The latter comprise not only widely distributed archaella (formerly known as archaeal flagella), but also different highly specialized archaeal pili, which are often restricted to certain species. Recent findings regarding assembly mechanisms, structural aspects and physiological roles of these type IV pili-like structures will be discussed in detail. Recently, first regulatory proteins involved in transition from both planktonic to sessile lifestyle and in assembly of archaella were identified. To conclude, we provide novel insights into regulatory mechanisms underlying the assembly of archaeal surface structures.