Developing environments responsive to the aspirations and needs of older people has become a major concern for social and public policy. This article aims to provide a critical perspective on what has been termed 'age-friendly cities' by shifting the focus from questions such as 'What is an ideal city for older people?' to the question of 'How age-friendly are cities?' This approach, it is argued, might be more suited to deal with the complexities of cities as sites of interlocking and conflicting commercial, social, and political interests. This theme is developed by examining: first, the main factors driving the age-friendly debate; second, constraints and opportunities for older people living in urban environments; third, options for a critical social policy; and, fourth, examples of involving older people in the development of age-friendly environments. The article concludes with a brief summary of current tensions and contradictions in the age-friendly debate.