Graphene and other 2D atomic crystals are of considerable interest in catalysis because of their unique structural and electronic properties. Over the past decade, the materials have been used in a variety of reactions, including the oxygen reduction reaction, water splitting and CO2 activation, and have been shown to exhibit a range of catalytic mechanisms. Here, we review recent advances in the use of graphene and other 2D materials in catalytic applications, focusing in particular on the catalytic activity of heterogeneous systems such as van der Waals heterostructures (stacks of several 2D crystals). We discuss the advantages of these materials for catalysis and the different routes available to tune their electronic states and active sites. We also explore the future opportunities of these catalytic materials and the challenges they face in terms of both fundamental understanding and the development of industrial applications.